Feeling lost and let down

I lost my brother in Aug 2019. A healthy 26yr old who died in his sleep. After a really long wait for the PM results due to delays here in Scotland it still came back unascertained. It gets referred to as Sudden Adult Death Syndrome or SADS.

I am not coping well. I think to the outside world I just get on with it. I have to, I’m a mummy to two young kids.
As soon as the kids are asleep I just cant stop crying. I am reliving that day over and over again in my mind. I have so many questions.
I am racked with guilt that while we were downstairs watching tv he was lying in bed dead.
I cant sleep for checking my babies are breathing. I have so much fear about his final moments, if he knew how loved he was?
I feel so overwhelmed.

Today I reached out to counselling services I was out in touch with the GP. After an initial assessment I was told I was coping well and should be really proud of myself. The lady could sense my disappointment and asked if i wanted to change any of my answers to see if i "qualified " for these sessions
I feel awful. I reached out. Confused, sad, terrified to be told what? That my grief isn’t enough.

I am so sorry to read the heartbreaking circumstances of your brother’s death at just 26. You describe yourself as not coping and overwhelmed - well you have every right to feel that way. It’s the most normal reaction to an horrific event and I totally understand your frustration with the counseling services on offer to some of us.
My husband died suddenly aged 64 last November mid conversation with my younger son while they were out for the evening. What my son witnessed could not have been more traumatic but despite our efforts he has been offered little or no support. Our GP did sign him off work without question but as for accessing help to cope with his obvious distress nothing was forthcoming. He was handed a sheet of paper with the phone numbers of Cruse and our local hospice but beyond that nothing. He was offered tranquillisers but declined. In February he started a weekly course of group therapy classes at the hospice for adults who had lost a parent but that of course ended with lockdown. I feel that the most appropriate help for him would be the sort of therapy offered to soldiers who see someone killed beside them or those involved in accidents and witness true horror. Like you finding your brother the effect defies description and is so misunderstood.
For me personally I feel there is little or no support following sudden death. The only thing my GP could offer was medication. It was quite apparent that she was floundering to know how to deal with bereavement and doping me to the eyeballs would have put me out of circulation and unable to seek answers.
Had I taken the tranquillisers and beta blockers as directed I would have been basically unconscious. I didn’t take them. What I wanted was answers as to why my seemingly strong and healthy husband died without warning but then and now six months on no-one cares. Even though a post mortem which we had to fight for proved that my husband was badly served both before and after death no-one wishes to discuss or learn anything from his experience. No apology, no attempt to prevent it happening it to anyone else (from the pm findings potentially my sons!) Absolutely nothing.
The effect of that attitude added to the debilitating and overwhelming grief we endure every day is indescribable and I sympathize with how you are feeling.
For those reading this post who have experienced a kinder and more proactive approach from their medical providers I understand this will seem to be a rant about doctors. It’s more about the inconsistency of a system which leaves incredibly vulnerable people to sink or swim. Perhaps after this horrific pandemic which will have left thousands of families prematurely and in some cases avoidably bereaved, there will be a review of grief and how it is handled. It has never been and should never be a tick box exercise. It is clear from my own experience that the GP training syllabus does not include bereavement. It’s as if death represents failure so let’s not go there. As my husbands GP said ‘these things happen’. Given that is the case they need to be able to refer to a dedicated service run by people who do care and know how to help bereaved families when they need it. Grief is messy and unpredictable as those of us on this site know only too well. Having to search for help and then convince someone we need it is not acceptable.
I hope you pursue your quest for help although with little children it’s not easy. It’s time consuming and exhausting. This site has helped me enormously in pouring out some of the more distressing aspects of my unending and unresolved grief. You will see you are not alone, however alone you feel.
Thinking of you x

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Hi. DG. I’m so so sorry to hear of your disappointment about counselling. For goodness sake!!! where do these so called professionals come from. It’s certain they have no experience of bereavement. Grief is grief. There are no graphs or guidelines to measure it by. No ‘one to ten’ about such feelings and emotions. ‘Be proud of yourself’. What utter nonsense! Pride is the last thing you will feel. They think you are coping well, but how do they know without proper counselling. Filling in a form can give a distorted view of how you actually are.
Try and avoid guilt. It was in no way your fault and all you were doing was very normal. How were you to know what was happening?
Checking your babies is another anxiety symptom that will eventually be relieved. You have come face to face with the inevitable and it’s bound to affect you. Take care and be kind to yourself. Your grief is a process we all go through. But like all processes it does ease, at least I have found it so. Grief is very personal, and we all do it in our own way. No set rules apply.
Most of us put on appearances when asked if we are OK because there is no way to express the pain.
Take care and look after yourself and your family. Blessings. John.

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Hi, and welcome. I can understand your confusion and most of use are good at putting that brave face on but it doesn’t help. We have a service here if you want to try it. It may be worth having another chat with you GP. I love the way you say you are ‘mummy’ they are the ones that will get you through this awful time and it’s normal to relive those days but if it happens for to long you definitely will need help. Try to keep occupied in the evenings and try to think of happier times. Basically any thing to help you over this time. I know it’s easier said than done because our thought process wants us to feel the pain and the loss. If it’s possible perhaps a walk in the evening may be useful and with the weather being good it’s certainly worth spending more time outside. You will find on this site others who have or are going through similar circumstances and they may be able to offer other advice but don’t ever feel you are on your own. Now take care of those little ones and yourself and try to be kind to yourself. Blessings S

Hi Jonathan, it’s interesting that you advise DG to try and avoid guilt. several posts recently have mentioned the guilt felt by people who failed to notice symptoms of their loved one prior to them dying suddenly or from a late diagnosed illness. It’s the worst form of mental torture known to mankind in my opinion. We have all learned on this site that there is no dress rehearsal when it comes to dying and not being able to put right the wrongs surrounding a death is agonizing. It is literally never ending. It’s an illustration of the shortcomings of the services that surround death and it’s aftermath that so many people feel guilt on top of grief. It’s left to relatives to feel guilty and often with no opportunity to have a discussion which might alleviate that grief. A missed opportunity by some medical providers for whatever reason!
I agree that taking care of oneself is a priority when grieving particularly when one has dependent small children. However, the difficulty of doing this when overwhelmed with unresolved grief and guilt is vastly underestimated . Where are the professionals when we need them? It’s a question I ask myself every day.
Regards Jobar

Hi. Jobar. Yes indeed guilt can add to the pain we already feel. What is guilt?

''Guilt. Guilt and its handmaiden, shame, can paralyse us––or catalyse us into action. Appropriate guilt can function as social glue, spurring one to make reparations for wrongs. “Excessive rumination about one’s failures, however, is a surefire recipe for resentment and depression”

That’s the dictionary definition. ‘A sure fire recipe for resentment and depression’. In other words it can do harm mentally. Unless we feel something is our fault it’s very difficult to see why we feel guilt. ‘I should have done more’, but at the time you did what you thought right. At the time!! I doubt any one of us could foresee what was going to happen. Had we known then we may have been able to lessen the pain of our loved ones, but how could we possibly have known? Crystal balls don’t exist in the realm of sickness. If a misdiagnosis has occurred how would we know? We are not doctors. We often berate ourselves for not being there when a loved one passes. But again, we have only to leave the bedside for a short time for it to happen. In a sense nothing is anyone’s fault. It’s life, it happens. Understanding can be a powerful tool in grief and anxiety. If guilt becomes an obsession then help is sure needed. It delays any forward movement. What is has happened. Nothing we can say or do will change anything, but while this is obvious it’s very difficult to see it that way when in grief. No one when happy and in normal times wants to face the reality of death. Which is a pity. Because when it happens we are so unprepared mentally, even after a prolonged illness we may never believe it will happen. To be in denial and to not face reality is not good mentally.
But all this needs practise, and when in a state of grief that is very very difficult. A bereavement counsellor can help with the process if we are willing.
Good to talk to you Jobar, and I hope we will not all be locked down much longer. Very best wishes. John.

Dear Defying Gravity30, My condolences on your tragic loss. I lost a sibling too, and relate to the sadness, fear, confusion and despair, because it has been my constant companion for the last two years.
I am beyond shocked at the treatment you received by a so called “professional.” I am so sorry you had to be subjected to that level of callous judgment, in your hour of need. How does one assess what “coping well” looks like? Who gets to decide who “qualifies” for compassion? How utterly presumptuous.
I work in the field of Mental Health, and have learned not to be influenced by someone who “presents well.” I have witnessed disastrous consequences resulting from this skewed manner of thinking.
Being in the field, I can attest to the lack of empathy and tactlessness exhibited by some of those we look to for guidance (my boss is a prime example), In all fairness, however, this does not apply to “every one.”
Your grief is valid and deserves to be acknowledged and treated with respect. No such “test” could begin to determine our degree of suffering. Sorry to rant, but this topic hits home for me.
Take care and post again, because here on this wonderful site, you will never be turned away.

Thank you everyone for your messages.
I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your loved ones.
Yesterday I was just so upset and really taken aback by the person’s statements.
At this point I dont really know what my next step is.

Just missing him. Wishing he was here to see how much my eldest child has grown and his little personality coming out and to have met my baby. He was really a fantastic Uncle.

Hi, your message really hit home to me because I lost my 28 year old brother in June last year from a brain aneurysm. Totally sudden and awful and I had just become a mum myself only 6 months prior. It was almost too much to bear, having those 2 life changing things one on top of the other and I can hardly think of how traumatic the whole thing was.

I share your sentiments about wishing your brother was here to see your children grow. When my brother last met my little girl she wasn’t even crawling - now she is up, walking and trying her best to talk. She allows me to get through day to day because I have to, for her, but it is so, so painful knowing she’ll never know him and he will just be a concept to her. He was so kind, caring and also would have been an amazing uncle.

If you ever want to chat please get in touch with me. I’ve found losing a sibling is like losing a part of yourself. So hard to come to terms with, that that healthy, vibrant, young person has just left such a void in all your lives.

I hope you are coping OK today and sorry that you had that experience with your GP. I’ve also found it nigh on impossible to get help with my loss - even paying for a private counsellor has been a challenge because everyone seems to be booked up.

Hi, I can understand your disappointment with the counselling service. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help and to be told what you were must be very hurtful.
Sadly, I think most counselling services are under so much pressure unless you say you’re suicidal they pat you on the head and say keep going.
One said to me " you need CBT, you were a teacher so you’ll understand working towards goals and outcomes" at the time the last thing I needed was another set of tasks to do , I was already worn out from all the paperwork, keeping the house and car going.
All anybody wants you to do carry on. Nobody wants to know how shocked and devastated you are.
Could you go back to the G.P. and see if they have more help? I hope you find some help please don’t struggle on alone. Seems.

During the course of my professional life I have come across so many very cold and upsetting people in the caring professions who should never be there. I have also met many lovely people who do care. ‘You need CBT’!! Did they counsel you to find that out? CBT is OK for some not others. I never used it because it seems a rather cold way of approaching a problem. I has caught on over the years and is an offshoot of ‘behavioural therapy’ back in the 1980’s. Each individual needs to be met on the terms they are at at the moment, and not get involved in some particular therapy. There are so many therapies its unbelievable. Talking to disturbed people with kindness understanding and compassion is all that’s needed. Letting them come to terms with their lives as they are. Bereavement counselling is a special form of counselling and needs extra training. I have never done it or want to. Sister2 and I have seen this happen so often on this site. People go for help and get put off everything by someone’s attitude who should know better. ‘Give it a few months and you will be fine’. I heard that said the other day to a bereaved person. It’s not only bad advice but is cruel. In a few months when they may be feeling worse, and it happens, then they can think there is something wrong with them. They are not ‘normal’ in some way.
It’s sad because most of the pain could be avoided by kindness.
I agree, going it alone is not an option. We all need help at times and it’s no shame to ask for it.
Take care and blessings.

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Thanks Jonathan123.
After a few days of thinking I realise that while I dont feel like I’m doing well, I probably have to be kinder to myself. That said I 100% agree that perhaps if this professional had said it in a perhaps kinder way?
Although I suppose she was kind about it but just now what I wanted to hear.

It’s frustrating. I’m just not the kind of person to ask for help. It really takes a lot.
Just writing my thoughts down on this page has helped me organise my thinking a little and let out some of that confusion and anger.

Just feel so overwhelmed at the moment. Miss him always.

You are so right Jonathan. All the platitudes, clichés, and text book therapy can not replace simple kindness and compassion. The “one size fits all” approach only serves to dismiss and invalidate our individual feelings.
I have one more scenario, if I may, to illustrate the astounding lack of insight of “some,” (certainly not all) professionals.
When I was in training, I was mentored by a woman who had been in the Mental Health field for years. She even did a stint as a Pastoral Counsellor. We had a woman come in who was in the depths of grief. This was only her 3rd session. On this occasion she was well dressed and groomed. The Counsellor sent her on her way after a ten minute visit, To my horror, the counsellor said “you must be better now, because you look so nice, and you are not crying.”
I will never forget the look of confusion on the poor griever’s face.
Defying Gravity’s experience is not unlike what happened that day to that poor grieving woman.
My wish for all of us, is to find the “good ones” in the field, who will see past our outer mask, and into the pain & anguish that is hiding behind it.

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I’ve just had this very conversation with my brothers girlfriend. I have to be okay for my kids and have had several people say, ‘Yeah but your okay. Hows your sister coping?’
In today’s world where we see ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ I feel like well it isn’t really because you look okay, seem to have your ducks in a row and dont make too much noise.

I’ve read these posts back a few times and I feel like I’m coming across bitter and angry. Just feel so overwhelmed, sad, angry that hes not here, dont know why he died, he was so happy and healthy and we will never know and life just goes on. It all just seems very unfair.

Dear DG, I am so sorry to learn of the loss of your brother, your grief, and the lack of professional help and understanding regarding your grief. Having suffered the loss of my dear husband, best friend and soulmate two years ago I know how desperately one feels the desire to tell someone how you are feeling. I, too, at one point looked at the Cruze website for guidance and help, but found the nearest branch was over 25 miles from my home, so I carried on dealing with my new widowed life the best way I could. I was also given a telephone number to ring by.my GP where someone could ring me and give a telephone consultation. I received one telephone consultation. The lady consultant was interested, asked questions and listened, made one fairly comforting comment, asked if I felt suicidal, and then concluded that I didnt need to see her! A bit disappointing at the time. This site community is the only one where I’ve been able to express myself, join in the topics on grief, and hopefully help someone. Finally, I realise now, learning from my own experience of trying to find suitable Counselling and that of others, is to seek private Counselling. I know many will disagree with that suggestion, and I still feel it should be covered by the Health Service. At the time my mother died some years ago, not only was I suffering my grief at her passing, but unfortunately both I and my husband had suffered the loss of our jobs, and the difficulties experienced seeking further employment, plus the fact that both of our children left home to marry within 9 months of each other. The marriage of our children was a happy occasion, of course, but I certainly felt the ‘empty nest’ syndrome. In the end, I felt I was losing confidence through having lost my employment, particularly a worry as I had always enjoyed my work. At that point I decided I would pay to see a professional psychologist to see if that would be of any use. I have to say, that was one of the best things I ever did to help myself. As in spite of having the loving support of my beloved husband other life problems were also affecting me at that time. In due course, I was back at work full-ime. I could cope with the grief over my mother, enjoyed seeing my adult children get on with their lives, and dare I say it my husband said that I was a “new woman”! Hope I am not being too flippant here. Just want to say that
both Alan and I felt that paying for the professional help had been beneficial to us both, something neither of us regretted. It was an amazing relief to be able to entrust the psychologist with my concerns.
Just hope if you prefer not to seek professional help, that you will soon be well able to cope with the help from readers on this site. They will not let you down.
With blessings to you and yours. Deidre

I would not want anyone to get the idea that counselling is not good. It is, and in the right hands can be very beneficial. Firstly it’s obvious that the NHS is woefully under funded when it comes to counselling and mental health. In the UK we can get CBT through our GP free of charge, but that’s it. Unless you are diagnosed with a real mental illness, and so many professionals do not regard anxiety as being a real one, then your chances of getting help are slim. Cutbacks and austerity have affected mental heath care. It’s the old story as in bereavement, unless you have been there how can you know. Going private is fine if you can afford it. Many can’t.
Another thing that arises is trust. Unless you feel you can trust the person you are talking to, and that includes friends and relatives, then it can be a waste of time. If you feel uncomfortable with a counsellor then it may be that one is not for you. You may well be able to confide your innermost feelings to someone you trust and have faith in and that can only be good and what it’s about.
This site, in a sense, although an open forum, gives the opportunity to express our feelings, not only to those who know but to be free from judgement or criticism.
I have always felt, and I am open to judgement on this, but counselling and mild short term medication from your GP can help a lot. Anxiety is very similar to grief. I would suggest we all suffer from anxiety after loss in some form or another.
It takes many years of experience and a lot of empathy to begin to see through ‘the mask’ as Sister2 put’s it. We all wear masks, our persona, for different occasions. It’s actually rare to see someone as they actually are.
Take care all. Blessings. John.

Hi everyone, just wondering how you are all getting on. All I seem to do these days is read through this website searching for people who have been through something similar and what helped. My beautiful brother Gary died on the 13/06, initial post Mortem says cardiac arrest, we have to wait for 3 months for further answers.

I feel so sad, and seem to cry all the time at the drop of a hat. I seem to just think ‘how can he actually be dead’ how has this happened? He was fine.

I feel it is much too soon for counselling for myself, but will consider group bereavement meet ups, we think these could be beneficial. Has anyone tried this?


Hi Exx Exx
I understand the pain and shock.
I had the same experience last summer with my dad.
I gave your screen name a nick name. :slight_smile:
I am just responding so that you know that you are not alone. Not sure why that might matter because there is nothing we can do to change it. Cardiac arrest steals our loved ones from us with no warning. I know you are in pain. I can tell you that the pain does subside. The sadness gets scarred over. It takes a long time. Please try to do what you can to take care of your physical health while you are grieving.