I am going to ask this outright. I couched in another thread. But I am asking outright.

I can't be the only one dealing with this. This is a form of PTSD. My cousin said so. A grief counselor did.

How do you get past the end of life very graphic images? These are haunting me, quite frankly.

I am not special by any means. There are so many of us who just muddle through. Like the old pinball games. Bump into this, bump into that. We don't get any points for it.

Does this ever get better? Is it time limited? Mine is real fresh. Not yet 24 hours. I want to know there is an endpoint here, or what I should expect.

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Grief is like a shipwreck poem

“Alright, here goes. I'm old. What that means is that I've survived (so far) and a lot of people I've known and loved did not. I've lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can't imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here's my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don't want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don't want it to "not matter". I don't want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can't see.

As for grief, you'll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you're drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it's some physical thing. Maybe it's a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it's a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don't even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you'll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what's going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything...and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it's different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O'Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you'll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don't really want them to. But you learn that you'll survive them. And other waves will come. And you'll survive them too. If you're lucky, you'll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”
Helpful Answer (24)
Reply to Godblessmom
kdcm1011 Jun 10, 2019
So beautifully said. Thank you.
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My mom tells me it takes some time. She lost her mother 13 years ago, was with her to the very end. Yes, the end of life is rather graphic and the images will play for a while. They do fade, but never really go away. Continue with the grief counselor in the immediate time frame. This being so incredibly recent, it's going to be incredibly difficult...for now. As time goes on, the memory can become more distant especially if you can focus on the good times.

Sometimes small things will come up during the process and set you back. This is normal and ok. Here was mine: My MIL passed April 2nd. She was in hospice in her home and my hubby and I were there frequently right up until 12 hours before we got the call. My husband did not do well during hospice time and for a few weeks after, but he's doing better now (Previous PTSD from active duty deployments to middle east) and speaks of her fondly and even jokes about things she said or did. We don't discuss the end time tho, he just breaks down. It interferes with him working, so he just rather work and do family things.

I grieved pretty hard since my MIL was really the best MIL I could ask for. I thought I was done tho, able to talk about her and think about her without the end of life images...until this past Monday. Was shopping for candles and wax melts with my 11yr old daughter. She picked one up, smelled it and said "Mommy, this one is soooo good!". So I smell it, intending to get it for her, and it hit hard. It was the exact scent that was being used in the house where my MIL hospiced and died in. I couldn't buy it, held back tears and told my daughter that we need to wait some time before we get that scent because it reminded mommy and daddy of some difficult memories. (She was never in the house during hospice, so she didn't know.) She gave me hugs, and picked out an apple scent she knows I like and just stuck it in the cart.

I wish you good things, and again many condolences for your loss.
Helpful Answer (17)
Reply to Miranova
Lymie61 Jun 10, 2019
Scent is such a powerful thing and triggers memories from throughout our lives often without even realizing that's what's happening. Maybe one day your mind/body will transform that scent memory to fond ones of the love in that house that no doubt made her long passing far more peaceful (suffering and all) than it would have been without her surroundings and loved ones. Must have been a favorite scent to MIL and how special your daughter was attracted to it as well without any memories attached. Please don't misunderstand, I am in no way passing judgment or suggesting you get over it, just expressing the hope that one day that scent will bring fond memories to you instead of the understandable sad ones it does now. Condolences for your loss as well Miranova.
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My mother’s death at home with me was quite traumatic. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but you wanted it outright. She had cancer metastases all through her abdomen and was passing chunks of bloody flesh, an image it was hard to lose. I think it took about 6 months for me to cope with the flashbacks. I was helped by going on a 6 week camping holiday with new things to look at and new people to talk to. Yes it will fade, be strong. I was proud to do what she wanted, like she did for my grandfather. Hang on to that.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen

No one has mentioned our relationship with God and the afterlife that is discussed in all the major religions. As a Christian I know Christ died for me and I will be reunited with God and all God’s spirits that have gone before me; for he dwells in all of us. The end of life is like being wrapped in a chrysalis. During our life we have separation from Him and it is only when we “metamorphosis into butterflies” are we reunited. In this life we are separated from God so I believe we suffer.
My mom had a rare form of red blood cell cancer for a number of years that caused anemia. She died in 2013 at the age of 86 so she lived a good long life. For six years I watched over her and found doctors who could provide quality of life. During her last nine months she could not heal and had several amputations. Her medications caused her to be diabetic but she had trouble healing due to thyroid shutdown. She decided to sign herself into hospice. She was in a rehab facility at the time and decided to do hospice there. I took movies up for us to watch and spent hours with her laughing. I also started to research the family to tell her about all the people she was going to meet. She would not shower unless I gave her the shower and she would lavish there for 30 to 45 minutes. This I did for her because it was my duty and I believed my honor. At the moment she left her body she woke me up and I felt her presence. It was like being wrapped with a warm electric blanket and she began talking to me not though my ears but in my brain. She was happy and free of all pain! At 5:35AM the hospice nurse called and said, “Your mom is gone!”
I laughed and said, “I know, she is here with me and we are walking out the door,” since I had promised to do her hair and put makeup on her.
The warm glow of her spirit stayed with me constantly for two days and she would make me laugh so hard with jokes and little quips. I felt her presence several times after that but I also thought I was a little crazy so I asked her for verification. A month after her death I was setting up an antique show (we often used to do them together during her last few years) and her favorite porter helped me with my things at setup. She had always called Robert her savior for changing a flat tire for her. While I was talking to Robert I felt my mom’s presence. I said, “She is here.” The warmth occurred and I could hear my mom saying, repeating, “Robert was all wet.”
I asked Robert, “Why is my mom saying you were all wet? Was it raining outside?”
With a broad smile he said, “Your mom is here!” He then told me it was mid-summer and about 100 degrees outside and she had parked her van in the sun on asphalt, so it was hot. Robert made Mom go inside while he changed her tire and when he was done, his clothes were soaked with sweat. He was drenched. He gave me a hug for my mom.
The last time I felt her presence, I was in the house with my father. She reminded me that the lock box in the back of the top of her closet. It was locked and I had no idea what the combination was. She told me and I opened it on the first try! Inside were the car titles, my father’s Navy discharge papers and much more. I have been blessed to know that she is happy and with God and receiving all that he promised. I am now taking care of my Dad who suffers with dementia and a personality disorder, so my trials are far from over. I am blessed with first-hand knowledge that our reward lasts an Eternity!
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Reply to BlancheD
WeAreSaints Jun 10, 2019
Beautiful. I'm encouraged by your words of faith. Thank you. God bless you.
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For a long time the death rattle was so vivid in my mind. Now 9 years later it has faded. What has remained is the memory of being in the room with my father with one of my daughters,my son,my stepmother, my half sister and half brother and all of us looking at him deeply saying we loved him because we were told once they removed medication that was keeping him alive it would be over very quickly. We all just wanted so for him to know that. It is wrenching just to relive it but a necessary part of grieving.
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Reply to Riverdale
Shane1124 Jun 7, 2019
So sorry Riverdale.

I touched on this topic on your other thread. It’s going to take time.

The images came to me often in the beginning. Mine eased with time.

I got some counseling after about 6 months. That helped.

This is going to sound ridiculous.

I had a dream about my Dad. He was sitting at the picnic table in my back yard drinking a frosty beverage in a College T-shirt. He wore them often. He played football there. He was laughing and talking but there was no sound. I was an observer in this dream. All this was directed my way. After the laughing and talking he was happily gesturing to me to “get outta here”.

Was this my Dad, my hero, coming to me from the other side? Some might say that. I don’t know. More than likely my own mind trying to give me comfort and permission to move on.

If the Hospice you used offers bereavement counseling start with that. Access other counseling if you can.

It’s hard. It’s a struggle. Don’t deny yourself help.

I am so sorry for your loss.

Take care of yourself. You deserve it!
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Reply to lizzywho61
Lymie61 Jun 10, 2019
Your mind or your Dad, on some ways they are the same or at least very connected right? What a wonderful thing to experience and how generous of you to share, your dad must have been a very special person who lives on in you Lizzy.
My sympathies to you as you find ways to cope with your loss.

Do you have letters that your mom wrote earlier in her life? Reading happier times in her handwriting might be a way to jog the good memories into the forefront of your mind.

As for your "gaffe" with the funeral home, please know that is normal. My husband was a pallbearer for his aunt. Just before lowering the casket, her husband asked that the casket be opened so he could see his beloved one more time. It's part of the healing process to be able to say goodbye.

When my dad died, a friend gave me the advice to be as kind to myself as I would be to a friend experiencing the same loss. Those words helped when I would get impatient with myself for crying over a joke I wanted to share with him but couldn't any longer.

My MIL passed away last fall and there was a graphic moment at the end. Others left the room, and it was my first instinct as well. I was able to turn around and hold her hand instead and it's a moment that I am proud of. I also have to give huge kudos to the nurse who was so compassionate in cleaning her up quickly. That graphic image stuck in my mind for weeks after her death. What helped me was going through her photo albums as we separated the pics for different family members. Seeing her happy was able to push back (not out) the image of her final moments.

You are in the most raw stages of grief will get better.
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Reply to metoo111

Another thing I did to get the bad images out of my head was immediately picture my MIL holding our baby on her chest at her farm. Think of her cooking fried green tomatoes on her massive cast iron skillet. You get the idea. Photo bomb you're head. It helps!
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Reply to BootShopGirl

HI is what helped me... reliving how bad it was and how much suffering I saw made it possible to say that my 98 year old mother was truly better off when it was over. I think nature shows us these horrors to take some of the sting out of the ultimate end that comes to those we love. I got any of the pix I took near the end off my phone, did not have any viewing or big funeral , and then put together an album of pix of my mom in better days. I think working on that album really helped. Hospice was great too... Keep busy, get your life back, and know that all of the pain and misery you witnessed is over. The body afterward is just an empty vessel and someday we will all find out what happens next m.j
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Reply to Jackiez
sunshinelife Jun 11, 2019
I work in medicine, and often tell older patients when they explain they don't care to live a healthier life as they are close to death that 'death is merely a passing from one room to another...its the suffering one wants to avoid . And living a healthy lifestyle will help to minimize suffering"
You are a positive person, i am sure you uplift many
Everyone's situation is different, but there are some good suggestions here. The bottom line is, it DOES get better. We don't forget but time eases the sharp edges and pain somewhat. I was with my Dad when he passed and it took me over a year to remember what "normal" Dad looked like. Even when I dreamed about him, he was sickly. I think the suggestion about having old, happier photos of the person is a great idea - wish I would have done that. I used to wish that the world would just stop for awhile until I could catch my breath! There is no time limit and don't ever let anyone try to guilt you into one - everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. Best wishes
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Reply to TiredSue

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