Losing my 18 year old son

In January I sadly lost my 18 year old boy in a car accident. I have been having bereavement counselling but struggling to build up a rapport so a friend suggested this site. Since it happened I have been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks, something I have never suffered with before, is this normal, and why does it happen? Sam wasn’t just my boy, he was also my best friend, we rarely argued but when we did it was normally because I was worried about him for one reason or another. He was a hard working boy and had many friends, he was kind hearted and loved by many. So, why can’t I remember any of the good times, holidays etc… when I try to remember them the bad things overshadow them, such as imagining the accident and reliving the police knocking at the door. I constantly feel on the edge of tears, and I torture myself by sitting in his bedroom and smelling his clothes. I want to know that wherever he is, he is happy and understands whats happened? I know no one can probably answer any of my questions but I would really like to hear how people have coped in similar situations. Im a paramedic and the thought of going back to work and having to deal with similar jobs fills me with dread, I know Sam wouldn’t want me to leave my job and I hope in time I will be in a better position and the thought of going back to work won’t scare me quite so much. I look forward to hearing from people, thank you.

I’m sorry you haven’t had any responses yet, and so my reply is to ensure that this gets back to the top of the list.
I have four kids, and seven grandkids and I can’t even begin to think how I could cope with what you are going through.
I don’t think there is any Normal in grief, everyone has a unique journey.
My youngest daughter was 18 when she started with anxiety and panic attacks and I remember how difficult and debilitating it was for her. Her GP prescribed citalopram and she’s mostly been on it ever since. When she knew her mother was getting close to the end of her life she asked the GP to increase her dose. She says she could come off it if she chose but it does help her to live her life. She is 32 now.
It’s not many weeks since January so you aren’t very far into the grief process. There don’t seem to be any shortcuts. In my case I can see some difference in how I am now, but I think it may go on for ever but hopefully I get better at it.

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Thank you so much for replying. Maybe I haven’t had any replies because people can’t answer my questions? I just feel so so sad and feel the only people that can help me understand things are people that have been through the same or similar. Hopefully people may see my message at some point. Thank you for sharing your daughters journey with anxiety and panic attacks, maybe medication is what I need too. Thank you x

Hi Deli, I am so sorry for your loss , Sam was so young , my daughter Dawn was 46years old when she passed in 2016, and what you are going through is devastating,i know , I still cannot get passed the time she was dying in hospital and could not put her photo out for about 9months just found it too painful. there is not one day goes by that I don’t cry for her I miss her so much… Try and get some counselling it will help you in the first few months, and everyone on this will know what you are going through… Time does not heal , but you will learn to live with your awful loss , , I would not have thought you would be expected to go back to work for quite awhile , Sam would not want you to give up, Hugs to you Maddie x

Hi Deli, I’m so very sorry for your very tragic loss. I’m sure your heart is broken. I cannot answer your questions to be honest. It is my husband that I lost on 31/1/19 not a child. And although some would say grief is grief is grief… I don’t think they’re right. Grief for various losses is different ie parents, partners, siblings and, God forbid, a child. Secondly, we all differ so much with how we try to cope and deal with our grief. I only realise these differences through my own experiences and also through reading the many posts on this forum.

I will say this; survival hour by hour is enough to cope with for you right now. I would suggest thinking no further than that for the time being. I wouldn’t think of work and how you will cope with it if/when you return. Forget about it for now. If sitting in your boys room with his things is what you need to do then continue to do it. Anxiety I have learned from others on the site seems to be common place, as does panic attacks. I would think your mind and body is in shock. Perhaps a visit to the GP would help with this regarding an explanation as to why it happens and possible medication to help you.

Many of us, myself included struggle, not least in the earlier days, with remembering the good times. Many of us appear to recall the days just prior to the death, and the day itself, of our loved ones. I am told that is often the case and that in time, however long time is, we start to include the happier memories in our thoughts.

All in all Deli, as heartbreaking and unbearable your situation is right now, it sounds to me to be pretty ‘normal’ behaviour from you given your circumstances and your position on this very difficult road that we all find ourselves on.

Rest assured that by continuing to post on this site you will be cared about, encouraged and supported whenever you need it and I am sure, like myself, you will learn so much and soon realise your experiences and behaviour are as unique as you are and yet exactly the same as the rest of us on here. We all do whatever it is that helps and works the best for us. There isn’t a right or wrong way.

I’m so pleased you found the site and I’m sending you love and hugs x

Hello Deli, I am so sorry to hear about your son. I understand exactly how you are feeling as I to lost my son 8 MTHS ago in an accident. He was 27 and my heart broke that day. I miss him terribly. I to suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. I didn’t go out to anywhere local for a long time. I think I just didn’t want to face people.bi would go another town for shopping where I knew i wouldn’t know anybody. In time I started to go to local shops but the first couple of times I took a panic attack. They will pass in time Deli. I wouldn’t think about work for now. You will know within yourself when the time is right. I was off five months. I also have my son’s clothes in my room as I can smell him when I walk in. Anything that comforts you is right for you. I don’t think I will ever get over this. The pain is awful. But others tell me that you build a life around the pain. For now I just get through a day at a time. Please continue to use this site. I found it invaluable in the early months. And message me anytime if you would like. Take care x

Hi , sorry for your sad loss. I too lost my dear son in January. I’m devastated, still in shock and I’m really struggling. Im so sad all of the time , I think of him every minute of every day and still think he’s going to walk in the door. I’m not coping at all and try and get through each hour of the day best I can . The thought of living the rest of my life without him is heartbreaking. He was 25 years old and like your son he had his whole life to live. He was a caring , unselfish loving person who always put others first. He was loved by many and always will be . I think I have an understanding of how your feeling. Just take one day or hour at a time, that’s all I’m capable of. I couldn’t think about going back to work, I’m not physically or mentally capable .I’m here if you want to chat .everyone’s grief journey is different, I seem to be getting worse every day and my husband is coping a lot better .I just feel like shutting myself away and hiding from the world . But that’s my way at the moment. Take care love Tracey xx

I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. My heart breaks for you. You have been hit with a terrible shock all I can say is stick with the counselling I lost my partner suddenly in May he was only 48 and this site has helped me a lot because we all understand I hope it helps you too .
Christine x

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Hello Deli. My heart goes out to you. I don’t post very often but so much of what you said struck a chord so I just had to reply. My daughter killed herself just over two years ago, aged 35, after suffering mental health problems and I changed from being a confident, outgoing, sociable person, the ultimate multitasker, into being a virtual recluse only comfortable in safety of my home with just my husband for company. Heidi used to say I was more than a Mum, I was her best friend and the best support worker she’d ever had, we were very close, so her death came as a complete shock. I started to have anxiety attacks and often felt mentally out of control. I was continually exhausted yet couldn’t sleep. I tried so hard to remember the good times but it was the bad, and the few times we argued, that always surfaced first. I kept in touch with friends by email, couldn’t face meeting up with them for coffee etc for months. I got comfort from smelling my daughter’s clothes and holding her two favourite cuddly toys which she’d kept from childhood so I totally understand why you want to spend time in your son’s bedroom. Somehow it brings them closer.

I don’t know when things changed, or how, but gradually I realised I was having days when I felt more normal (the new normal) and gradually I started meeting up with people again and having more good days than bad. The anxiety attacks stopped as suddenly as they’d started and I felt more in control. There isn’t a day when Heidi isn’t my first thought every morning, my last thought every night and several thoughts in between but the overwhelming sadness has eased and I believe that now she’s safe home and out of pain, and am convinced that when my time comes she’ll be there smiling, waiting for me, ready to welcome me into the next life.

People said take one day at a time, but the thought of a whole day panicked me so I split the day into small sections, a couple of hours at a time, and I found that helped to keep me calm. Mornings were my worst time so I found it helpful to ease myself slowly into the day rather than rush around as before. We’re all different and you’ll find what you’re comfortable with, and what works for you, but I found this site an absolute Godsend, just knowing that what I was feeling was normal and hearing how others coped. Keep reading even if you don’t feel up to posting. We all know what you’re going through. Sending you big hugs, Kathy xx

Hi Maddie
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, I’m very sorry to hear of your loss too. Sending hugs back x

Deli I lost my son a week ago and there have been times when I have thought I cannot go on. I have found that talking about him has helped so much. Maybe just tell us about your son. The colour of his eyes, what he enjoyed doing. His favourite dinner. I send love to you

Thank you so much for replying to my post, I know you said you couldn’t answer my questions but actually you have in a round about way, and I’m glad it all seems to be normal. Im so sorry to hear about your husband, sending hugs back x

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post, and I’m so so sorry to hear about your son. Its good to hear that the panic attacks are normal because I was starting to think I would always have them now. I too avoid going to local places, scared of bumping in to people, and I’m glad to hear that this is quite normal too. Im so glad I found this site, it has helped me deal with things much better than one to one counselling. Thank you again, and take care x

Hi Tracey
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post, and I’m so sorry to hear about your son. This site has helped me much more than one to one counselling as I’m speaking to people like yourself that understand what I’m going through. Why is it always the good ones that are taken too soon? Like you, I am absolutely heartbroken, I have an odd day when I can function around people but as soon as I get in my car and I’m on my own I start to cry again. Sometimes, I don’t even realise I’m crying, it just happens. The anxiety is getting me down, I used to be so confident but I feel part of me has gone with him, I don’t think I will ever be the same. My counsellor keeps referring to ‘when she lost her brother’, I’m sorry but it doesn’t compare. Ive also lost both my parents and my twin sister but it doesn’t compare to what I’m feeling now, losing a child is the worst pain anyone can ever feel, and we both know how true that is. Try and stay strong as your lovely boy would want you to, just as Sam would want me to. Take care, Deli xx

Thank you Christine, and I’m so sorry to hear about your partner xx

Hi Kathy
Thank you so much for replying, and I’m so sorry to hear about Heidi (Coincidentally I also have a daughter called Heidi). Its so good to hear that eventually the good days outnumber the bad because at the moment it seems so far away. And, that you eventually managed to meet up with people etc. even if it is ‘the new normal’. I have started to meet up with people but only close friends really, I try and meet in places less busy as I’m worried about bumping in to people when I’m not prepared for it. As you probably do too,
I constantly ask myself questions about the night it happened, and I now know I’m just torturing myself as they will probably never be answered. Its good to hear that my good memories will eventually come back as this is something that bothers me. We holidayed every year, mostly abroad but I can’t remember one holiday, I can’t remember his first day at school, when I close my eyes I can’t see his face so I sit with a bottle of wine on a night so that I can sleep without nightmares. Friday nights are the worst (like tonight) because thats when it happened, it will be 9 weeks in the early hours of tomorrow.
Ive replied to other people but your story (although different ages) seemed so much similar to mine, and I’m struggling to write this because I can’t stop crying. I try to rationalise whats happened by telling myself that we are born with a date when we are to leave, the 12th of January was Sam’s day and if it hadn’t been a car accident it would have been something else. I don’t know whether this is true and if these thoughts might bite me on the backside one day, but for now its the only way I can cope without getting angry.
I have to give a statement next week to the police accident investigation team in preparation for the inquest, this fills me with dread. Did you have to have an inquest for Heidi? If so, did you go?
Again, thank you so much for taking the time to reply to me. Sending hugs back, Deli xx

Hi Catty
Im so sorry to hear about your son, I lost Sam almost 9 weeks ago so I know exactly how you are feeling after a week (although I don’t really remember much of the first couple of weeks). My Sam was 18, he had red hair and piercing blue eyes, he was much taller than me (he used to give me a cuddle and ask me if I was shrinking!), he was a bricklayer so a fit, muscly boy. He was a hit with the ladies, and used to say he had Ed Sheeran to thank for this! Every night before he went to bed, and when he left the house he always gave me a cuddle and told me he loved me, I didn’t see him on the night I lost him as I was working till late and he had already gone out by the time I got home. I could make him any meal but he was more interested in 8 slices of toast with peanut butter! Over 600 people came to his ‘send off’ so he was very much loved by many people, he always bought his friends drinks when he got paid on a Friday so then had no money left on a Saturday, we called him ‘our Friday night millionaire’. With his final salary we bought all his friends a Jager Bomb on "Sams day’ and told them that this was the last drink Sam could buy for them. Thank you so much for making me remember some things, you are a very brave person, and obviously very kind to take the time to message me when your loss is still so very raw. When you are ready I would love to hear about your boy.
Deli x

Good morning Deli. I hope the wine helped and that you got a good night’s sleep last night. What a coincidence that you also have a Heidi - do you have any other children? Heidi was our middle one. Our son and other daughter were such a source of strength to us at first. Also coincidentally my eldest daughter’s husband is an ambulance driver!

As a paramedic you’re probably a strong capable person by nature, and used to having to take control of situations, so the way Sam died must have hit you particularly hard. I don’t know if we’re born with a specific date when we’re meant to leave but anything that gives you comfort at this time, and stops your mind racing, is good. I can’t take credit for the following thought, I found it in a church magazine a while ago, but it reinforces the belief I’ve always had in the afterlife and I found it very encouraging so wanted to share it with you. Basically the thought is, if we could ask a baby safe in the womb if it believed in life after birth what would the answer be? Could it really conceive of life outside the only world it has ever known? Could it envisage a bigger, better world waiting for it where it’s arrival has been lovingly and eagerly waited for? I’ve never had any signs from Heidi, nor have I asked for any, but she shared my faith so I like to think that she knows I don’t need them, that I’m happy for her even when I’m incredibly sad for myself but as I said last time I really do believe she’ll be there for me one day and we’ll be together again. Maybe then we’ll understand why it had to be this way. That’s what keeps me going - my grief is for MY loss, she’s fine now. Hope that helps - but my husband always says I tend to overthink things!

Heidi’s inquest was 3 months after she died but because it was clear cut suicide the coroner didn’t call anyone and we didn’t attend. I sent the coroner a family statement but that was the extent of our involvement. My son got a copy of the report as he lived locally, but he read the first couple of sentences then burned it, he felt we would all find it too harrowing (she threw herself of a cliff after taking an overdose of prescription meds washed down with neat vodka) and he wanted to remember his sister as she was when she was alive. I think these reports can be quite graphic. It’s horrible, isn’t it, having to deal with the fall out when you just want to hide away and grieve. In addition to the inquest Mental Health Services did their own report which my husband contributed to, but after that we were left alone to come to terms with what had happened. I’m wishing you strength and peace of mind for that statement next week. I think only time can help us heal. Our hearts have been broken and they’ll take time to mend, and there’ll probably always be a scar there, a weakness, so take your time and do whatever is right for you at your own pace.

Have you tried digging out old photos of Sam to help you remember the happy times, the holidays, his first day at school etc? It’s strange how the bad memories come to the fore at times like this but I found that it does change with time.

I’m always happy to chat so do message me anytime. Sending more hugs your way, Kathy xx

Kathy what a beautiful response you have written and I absolutely love the thought of the baby and life after birth question. I too have my faith and regardless of any heartbreak suffered through loss of people that I love, I fortunately never lose it.

I just wanted to thank you for sharing what you had read in the church magazine.

Love and hug for you x

Bless you. Sending love and hugs back to you xx