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Clearhead

Sudden Death of Mother - keep replaying the night

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I lost my mother a month ago to a sudden heart attack in bed. She was fit and healthy and had no health conditions, so this came as a huge shock to us all.  I was visiting my parents for the weekend and was sleeping in the room next to them, and my Dad woke me up saying that he couldn’t wake my mother up.  We both then tried to wake her, called 999 and the paramedics did all they could to save her, but were unable to do so.

 

One of the problems I have during my grief is that because my Dad and I were the ones first on the scene, we saw her at the most horrifyingly worst - blue lips, helpless body and eyes all over their sockets, and then we saw her being given CPR for around 45 minutes on the floor of the bedroom.  I just can’t get these images out of my head at night and they come back each and night as soon as I decide to go to bed.  I’m sure there must be some link to the fact that it happened just after I went to bed that night and they therefore come back at the same sort of time.  I don’t live in the same house where it happened, but that hasn’t really made much of a difference with this.

 

I’m curious to know if anyone has had any similar experiences to this and whether they found a solution that stops this regular recollection of what I saw that night.  I’ve tried reading more books than usual, especially in bed at night, which helps a bit but it hasn't solved the problem.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I was recalling the best memories I have of her but it’s always these absolutely terrible ones.


I’d also like to know how people have got through the first few months in general.  I was numb for the first 2 weeks, and then going back to work I’ve felt a bit more normal but some days are very painful indeed.  I’ve heard people say that a sudden death like this takes longer as the numbness and shock need to get over first before the proper grieving starts, and now I feel like I’m right in the full grieving process.  I’m not religious, but I still like to feel my mother will always be by my side in some sense and always there to offer an opinion and answer a question - which is good because she was always right!

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Agnes   

Hello dear Clearhead,

I'm so terribly sorry for the passing of your beloved mother, just two months ago.

I can feel with you and can very much relate to your pain and suffering from this traumatic moments you had witnessed.

I've been very much traumatized due to my dear Father's passing, and am still in complicated grief process.. although, it has been almost a 1 year now. I'm still in disbelief and yet reliving a lot of those shocking moments ( crying, weeping terribly... ) as well, have got lot of unresolved issues and feel a lot of guilt, regret and resentment. ( as had to make End-of-Life decisions for him, and am especially sad and angry that the Doctors, nurses didn't seem it necessary to give him any pain medication ) .. as well going through this, mainly on my own.. with just a counselor to talk to once a week.

For me as well, it's so hard for me to try to cling or remember or reminisce mostly or only the 'good times, memories' due to a complicated relationship with my Dad, complicated family dynamics, then the care-giving process and so on.. and then the horrific moments in the hospital.. still dealing with flashbacks myself. 

So, I not sure if I'm in the right position to give you any good advice how to get through those complicated grieving moments, of flashbacks and replaying all the bad things that happened.

I can only say, try to be compassionate to yourself. Don't rush yourself through your grief and don't let other people judge or value YOUR grief. Perhaps try to find a dear friend, who you trust and know is a patient and non-judgmental listener or perhaps look into Therapy one-on-one, Group Therapy or counseling .. which gave me an outlet to talk things out into the open. As well as journaling, writing your thoughts down ...

Be gentle to yourself. I know it's hard and you get sucked into this darkness, and spiral in circles through all of it in your mind. It is so overwhelming .. people say it gets better with time, or time heals all wounds. Well .. !!! .. for my experience I can only say, that with time:

1. One doesn't get overrun or surprised as much with all the stages of grief, all the thoughts, emotions etc.. that occur. Although, at the beginning or even after months, new feelings, issues of the past or also some issues can arise and you can stay stuck in them longer..  it can all be very confusing and difficult to cope.

2. So, the coping for yourself with all those emotions, feelings, thoughts .. you kinda get the 'hang' of it. But just kinda .. as perhaps you have more clear/calm moments to yourself and your mind.

3. And then the hardest part is, you realize there is no way around Grief .. only through it, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day and so on ... You somehow 'have' to live side by side with Grief ... and the loss of your loved ones.. 'Acceptance' and 'Forgiveness' as well, I would say is the hardest part.

There is no letting go, as if: just a trying to move forward, i guess. You never let go of your loved ones, you love them forever.. no matter if they are not side by side with you in this physical world. Only in your heart, forever.

I know those words don't make it easier, what so ever. It is and stays devastating and heartbreaking. ...

Try to surround yourself with loving, caring people.. if and when you feel like it at times. Talk it out, write it out, cry it out, scream it out.

But then try to find some peace and quiet for yourself. Take care of yourself, eat, drink and sleep as much as you need.

Ok, I hope I didn't confuse you too much.. just signed up today and your message popped up and I felt I wanted to reply to you.

Hope I didn't do you any harm with my writings. Please tell me if so. ( English is not my first language in a way.. ) and I'm as well still in a complicated grieving process, and as well very much helpless and not knowledgeable about anything.

Sending you a big hug, if I may.

I'm in Europe as well, and still up late. So, I hope you can find some rest and quiet sleep tonight.

Dearest greetings, C. Agnes

 

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Dgiirl   

Clearhead, my condolences on your loss.  The loss of a parent is deeply painful as I'm currently experiencing with the passing of my own father.   However, in addition to general grief, the passing of your mother was unexpected and sounds like a traumatic experience.  Although, I am currently not experiencing any dreams with the passing of my father, in the past I have gone through a unexpected traumatic experience and the dreams were dreadful for a very long time.  What I learned from that experience is you are in shock right now.  Your mind has not fully caught up to reality and so your brain is trying to process what is going on during your sleep.  Although it might take a while, the dreams will eventually subside.  You just have to accept them as they are, your way of handling the shock and trauma until you can fully process what is going on.  Be patient and forgiving of yourself.  Let yourself cry and grieve when you can, but at the same time, don't let it paralyze you from living.  It's a roller coaster of emotions where at times all you have are tears and really lows, but then it slowly subsides and you'll find yourself for a split second ok.  Eventually, the lows become less frequent and the highs become more frequent, until you create a new normal.  If you have the means, I would highly recommend counseling.  They can help guide you in your grief journey and help you understand what is normal and that you are not alone and they might be able to help you process your dreams.  Be kind to yourself. 

 

 

 

 

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reader   

Dear Clearhead,

My deepest condolence and sympathies on the passing of your cherished mother. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know its hard not to have those moments in your head. I do too. The last moments I spent with my dad are the hardest ones for me to forget. I try as you said to read or watch a movie or somehow distract myself. Sometimes it works for a little bit, but four months later I still have days when I go back to my dad's last day. Its still a horrible shock. Part of me can't believe it really happened, that my dad has really died.

I think Agnes and Djiirl said things a lot better than me. I hope during these difficult times you will try and be as kind and gentle with yourself as you can. Thinking of you. Sending you lots of hugs.

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Zara19   

Hello Clear-headed

I'm so sorry to read about your sad loss and distress.  I too am in the North of England. Everyone has given excellent replies so there is nothing I can add.  I do know that even after 5 months the images of losing my Husband torment me.  Our loved ones deserved better.  Shock and suddenness bring about a similar feeling of PTSD in a way.  It's a distraction to the grieving we want and need to be doing.  Have you thought of putting your name down for CRUSE counselling or Mindsmatter counselling through your GP.  Although there are long waiting lists.  4 weeks is really soon though and you may feel these images are not in the fore of your mind as time goes on.  Warmest regards and heartfelt empathy to you.

 

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Thank you very much for all of the replies (and hugs!).  I wasn’t expecting such quick and detailed responses and they are all full of very helpful advice. I think it’s important to speak to people like this who have gone through something similar in addition to the support from friends and family.

 

Yes, it is kind of like trying to let the grief run it’s natural course but also not let it stop you living your life.  However bad some of the days at work can be, it does help a lot having something different to focus on each day.  I’ve had a few days off, but I’m not sure how helpful they’ve really been.  

 

I’ve had a look at the CRUSE website but haven’t taken the plunge with it yet.  From what the replies are saying, it does look like it’s worth doing.  I think I’ll give them a ring soon and see what they can offer. It sounds like I’m in for a long ride then.  I do also get a lot of moments when I can’t believe it’s happened and I’m just trying to understand within myself that this isn't something that I’m going to get over, it’s something that’s going to permanently change and alter me and my life.

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JoMarie   

Hi Clearhead,

I am so sorry about the passing of your mother. I watched the moment that my mother took her last breath, and it's literally the only thing I can remember of my mom. She passed only a few months ago, so the image is still burned into my brain.

Sometimes it goes away, others it pops up in the worst moments possible! I can be at work in a meeting, and the next thing you know, I have to excuse myself to cry in the bathroom. Other days I don't recall anything.

It does help to try and return to a normal routine slowly. Don't just throw yourself back into how your life was before hand at rapid speed-it won't go according to plan. Trust me..

I would recommend guided meditation. I seriously couldn't do it for a long time because my brain would not shut off, and was always going a mile a minute to still process what happened. It really does help to slow everything down..even if it's only for 10 or 15 min. Don't get frustrated if it doesn't work immediately, but you will be surprised when everything just slows down.

I hope this helps. Sometimes people just say words and it doesn't feel much better, or it's not what you need at the moment. Find comfort in the fact that it does get better with time. Easier said than done for sure, but there is still so much life to live.

Sending love

xo

 

 

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That sounds interesting, I might try guided meditation.  I need to slow things down like that and allow myself to process thoughts a lot slower and more peacefully.  I'm still replaying everything that happened each night when I go to bed, but I'm trying ti distract myself as much as I can.  

The normal working routine does help though and there is a general theme of acceptance trying to get through somewhere now I think, so just hoping that these thoughts and images I get gradually fade and that my mind goes to other things more often than not.

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Maisie   

Hello Clearhead

I too have experienced a situation very similar to yourself so I hope I can be of some assistance to you. I lost my Mother also 10 months ago, when she was just 41 (& I was 14). I was waiting at the bus stop for school when I received panicked messages from her saying 'help' & 'Athsma attack' so me & my sister ran home to see her. My Auntie who lives across the road, received these messages also and also ran to our house. My mother was in an awful condition where she was lying on the floor, panicked and screaming 'I'm going to die'. We called the paramedics & they also tried their best but couldn't save her. Like you, I saw her in a terrible state with blue lips etc so I can total sympathise with what you're going through. Watching CPR take place on someone you love who's normally in great condition is very hard❤️

I feel our situations are very similar, I too felt extremely numb for a while, & looking back on it I am so overwhelmed how well I managed to cope. My worst times have been adapting back to normality & knowing she will miss me grow up etc..

I can assure you after time you will soon be able to look past the awful day & remember the woman you love & cherish so dearly ❤️ I attend 2 councelling sessions a week & it helps me to be able to express my feelings and share. I always feel that even though it's so hard to tell people what you've gone through, it helps to talk about, and not hold it in or those memories that you do not wish to retain will stay permanent. Stay strong, you are so brace & you're mother is so proud ❤️❤️

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reader   

Dear Maisie,

You are an amazing young woman. Thank you for your beautiful reply to Clearhead. Although my story is different, I take so much comfort in your words of love and support to Clearhead.

 

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Yes indeed thanks Maisie - it's hard going through this at my age, but at your age it's very admirable to be able to offer advice and support like that and talk about your awful experiences in that way.  

It's so sad that those are the last memories I have of my mother, but I'm trying my hardest to make sure the best memories come to the surface again.

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My Friend,

I don't know if my perspective will help but here is what came to mind after reading your posting.

You were a witness to your mother's journey, passing out of this life.   What an honor.  What a privilege.

I believe it was no coincidence that you were there that weekend and that your mother passed with her husband

and child nearby.  Think if you were in her shoes.  Would you want your child to live in fear of the moments after you passed?

Take time to think about this. 

I send you my deepest condolences and my very best wishes.

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Thanks for the kind words Charterhouse11 - it does seem like a big coincidence that I was visiting on the same day and am very thankful I was, and also that the last two people she spoke to were my father and me with my last words to her being 'Goodnight'.  

It does serve a lot of comfort knowing these things and I dread to think what my feelings would be if I was away or hadn't seen her for a long time etc.  

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I lost my mother a month ago on 9th Feb, she suffered from sudden cardiac arrest. I was not in my country, I just left in dec for my new job in other country. I was too much attached to my mom too, we both knew exactly what we are doing minute by minute, I usually talk to her on face time every morning and night, I talked to her that day in morning at 10 am and she left the world at 3.30 pm. I don't know why my family didn't wait for me. they cremated her at 7 pm next day that's when my plane landed exactly. I am in deep pain and shock as everyone expects me to be normal especially my in-laws. No one with their parents can ever understand the pain and grief i m going through. Its just a month and I can't believe my best friend my mom is not there. Its almost a month that I haven't talked to her and I know I will never be able to now. I don't know whom to talk, i keep on looking for answer on internet what happens after death, where is she? Is she fine? Was she in pain when she left the world? I am eating, I am alive without my mom? why? How? I want to meet her but how ? I hate people saying "you have to be strong"??? I am like "seriously???" Sorry I can't be. No one with parents can ever understand this grief. I just want to cry loud everytime, I can't bear people near me laughing and expecting me to be strong and move on. 

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Very sorry to hear about your terrible loss Komal.  I am very grateful that I was there when my mother passed away, but cannot imagine how awful it must feel when you are not in the same country.  You're right, until it happens to you no one can understand how painful it is.  It's something that is impossible to prepare for and something that changes you forever.  Just deal with it in the best way you can in your circumstances and try to think how your mother would want you to be.  When I found myself walking around my local city centre depressed and unhappy, I suddenly changed my behaviour when I realised that it was the last thing my mother would have wanted me to be doing.  

Just don't feel under any pressure to be strong and move on - grief is long and complicated but is a natural process and it will take it's natural course with you.  It's fine to be weak and fragile in these circumstances and being like that really shows you care.  Anyone who suggests that just over a month after your mother has died you should be strong and move one simply doesn't understand what grief is.  

 

 

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Dear Clearhead

Thank you so much for your support. I am trying hard to control my emotions at least, trying not to cry in front of anyone. I miss mom a lot and I am still shocked and confused as she just disappeared, I keep reading our chats as we use to msg a lot, I am habitual of telling her every moment of the day from my food to my cloths. I still talk to her all day inside my head. She was and she will be my strength to live. 

The support in this forum is really helpful to everyone who is in grief. I would like to thanks every person writing and sharing their grief and supporting each other.

Warm hugs to everyone.

 

 

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Dear Komal,

my heart felt condolences to you. I lost my mum last October, everything is so raw and fresh, she passed away suddenly at 62! Few days after her birthday. My guilt kills me I didn't stay in the ICU while she took her last breath, i didn't hold her hand, she was unconscious, I felt cheated. I was crying outside with my brother, I just could not bear to see her take her last breaths, the doctors said they had tried everything and once the final medications finish, all her vitals and Bp will continue to drop until zero. I let my father and uncle stay with her, I didn't get the courage to see her body, I suppose that's not the final image I wanted of her, but I am guilty of being so selfish, I was. It there when she needed me most

i can relate to your pain and although people don't have bad Intensions when they say be strong but these words can sting like hell. 

I am the older daughter and only lady in my father and brothers life, I have a strange responsibility that I dint want, I was the pampered child but the role has now reversed. It feels awful and perhaps it would have caused you more pain if you had been there, perhaps your mum dint want you in pain. But I can sympathise with you and only send you love, courage and hopefully, you'll know that this is perhaps how God wanted it to be. 

Take care,

big hug

 

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