Struggling with How a Loved One Died

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Eleanor Haley


The moments surrounding a loved one’s death can stick with a person. If you were there, the memories can remain strong even if the details are foggy. For those who weren’t there, the absence of memory is often replaced by questions and wondering.

If grief is a forest, then the death is its impossibly dark and winding center. Many grieving people find themselves stuck in this center, unable to move far past it, while others have somehow made it to the less dense, but still challenging, outskirts and refuse to look back.

If my characterization sounds bleak, I guess it’s because this struggle is personal to me. Of course, I know many people have made peace with memories of their loved one’s death and they can look back without feeling fear, guilt, shame, or intense sadness. But I’m not one of those people. At least not yet.

Though I’ve explored just about everything about my grief, I seldom revisit the days surrounding my mother’s death. I haven’t faced what I know about them or made peace with what I never will know. And to be honest, I haven’t decided whether I should.

Is it worth the pain that looking back will cause? For me, probably. But this is a question every person must answer for themselves. If thoughts about your loved one’s death – or any other aspects of your grief – are haunting you, keeping you up at night, occupying your thoughts, showing up in your dreams, or pushing you towards harmful avoidance – then yes, it’s probably time to face them.

Though, “facing things” sounds a little too intense in my opinion. We always want people to be thoughtful and careful when taking on the tough stuff. We recommend you pace yourself and seek the support of friends, family members, a support group, or therapist.

memory of death

There are many reasons why the events surrounding a loved one’s death might evoke thoughts and emotions related to fear, panic, pain, shame, guilt, and several other internal experiences. Below are just a few:

Revisiting of the details of your loved one’s death:

People may have distressing memories associated with the death. For example, if a loved one struggled with a long-term illness, a person may remember how upsetting it was to see them in pain at the end of their life.

If someone died from an accident that involved violence or harm to the person’s body, survivors who witnessed the event or saw the person afterward may look back on these memories and remember their fear, terror, and panic.

Even those who weren’t present for the death may remember where they were when they found out, what they were doing, and how they felt and responded.

It’s very important to note, revisiting events like these can bring up many distressing thoughts and emotions. When thinking about the death, some people may actually re-experience intense emotions like panic, terror, and fear. In an effort to not feel this way, the person may actively avoid anything that could bring up these memories which, in the long run, may cause them to cut themselves off from important people and places and to possibly live in a state of hyperarousal.

We have a few articles linked below related to this. However, if this sounds like something you’re experiencing, and if it’s making you very uncomfortable or you’ve lived with it for a while, we’d also recommend talking to a mental health professional to explore some of what you’re going through. Specifically, we recommend finding a therapist with experience in treating trauma.


Negative feelings about how you felt or behaved at the time of a loved one’s death:

Thoughts and emotions related to things like self-blame, guilt, shame, and regret can cause feelings of depression, guilt, posttraumatic stress, and self-stigma.

Some specific examples include thoughts like…

  • “I should have done CPR when I found the body”
  • “Why didn’t I tell him to go to the ER right away?”
  • “I just froze – how could I have done nothing?”
  • “I should have been there.”

Looking back in hindsight, people may even feel guilty and ashamed about things that far preceded the death. Sadly, they may struggle with these things for a long time because, now that the loved one has died, they can no longer ask for forgiveness.

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Unanswered Questions:

Many mourners struggle with unanswered questions about a loved one’s death. Questions like:

  • How did they die?
  • Was their death an accident or did someone cause it?
  • Was it instant?
  • Did they suffer?
  • Were they afraid?
  • Could this have been prevented?
  • Who is to blame?

Just abstractly writing these questions feels upsetting, so I know living with them can be excruciating. Understandably, many people get caught up in asking these questions for a long, long time.

While some people do manage to find answers that bring them peace, many people don’t. Some of these questions can never be answered, and sometimes those that can, don’t have satisfying answers.

I searched a bit online for articles about how to find peace with unanswerable questions. Most of what I found addressed living with unknowns in the future, what psychologists call ‘intolerance of uncertainty” 

Intolerance of uncertainty is a significant factor in many types of anxiety disorders. So I think it’s worth noting that living with unanswered questions about a loved one’s death can cause anxiety about the future because unknowns lead to an increased sense of unpredictability and a decreased sense of safety. 


So now what?

It’s difficult to address this subject in a simple article because there are no easy answers. I can’t provide a list of bullet points telling you how to deal with one of the most significant and painful moments of your life.

The actual events of a loved one’s death are often like an open wound that isn’t easily healed. Though it’s the event that starts the dominos of grief falling, it’s often one of the last things we’re ready to explore.

What I can say is that if any of the above experiences are creating stuck points for you in your grief, then you may want to think about finding ways to explore those particular experiences. Things like writing, journaling, artistic expression, support groups, talking to a friend, and seeking therapy can help.

We’ve written a lot about coping with grief, so have a look around our site if you want to read more. We also have a free 10-day Coping with Grief from Home online course. Though we don’t specifically focus on this issue in the course, you can and it may introduce you to a few new coping tools.

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We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

Let’s be grief friends.

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47 Comments on "Struggling with How a Loved One Died"

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  1. Madisyn Erdley  November 6, 2020 at 5:43 pm Reply

    My grandfather died in 2012 from stomach cancer and i still miss him and love him and now that he is gone for ever my meme will continue being a psycho path util i am 17 years old and talk to her about it.

  2. Marie  October 17, 2020 at 8:55 pm Reply

    I’m so glad I found this thread. I lost my daughter “Alex” two years ago. She was beautiful, strong, athletic, bright, and found herself surrounded by similar friends who used to come over all the time. She walked around ready to switch into a beaming smile at any moment, in a way that only young people with the world at their feet seem to be able to pull off.

    She was also epileptic. She was taking a bath, something she should have known better than to do by herself, seized, and drowned. She was 21 and home from college. My son found her. He hasn’t been the same since. That’s what I struggle with. My poor little boy, the lifeguard, alone begging his sister to wake up knowing it was too late.

    I still prefer not to use the bathroom that she died in. I’ve only entered her room twice – once to get the white button up shirt and black slacks she was buried wearing. I wonder if her posters are peeling down or if her clothes in the dresser are wearing out.

    Her shoes are still lined up by the front door. I can’t stand to throw them out. She’s barefoot now – Alex would have come to me in a dream and complained if I’d had her laid in the coffin I chose for her with its pleated silk lining and pillow for her head with anything on her feet. I wonder when these things will stop hurting the way they do.

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    • IsabelleS  October 19, 2020 at 11:17 am Reply

      Marie… Wow, I am so very sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family. I want you to know that the pain you are experiencing is normal and valid. I hope this community brings you some degree of comfort and shows you that, no matter what, you are not alone. These things may never stop hurting, but they will get easier with time.

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    • Augusta  November 3, 2020 at 2:02 pm Reply

      Marie, I am so sorry to hear that is how you lost your beautiful girl. I love your recollection of her. I’ve coached college sports for years and I’ve known so many beautiful girls like her. Such wonderful, spirited, loving people with that happy love of life. I can see that grin you mentioned.

      My heart breaks that Alex passed. Your memories of her make her room a sacred place. Leaving her toes free to wander and mingle with the silk you laid her to rest in is so deeply respectful to her body and soul. Peace to you, and her brother, and all the people that loved her.

  3. Erick Whitaker  October 13, 2020 at 3:16 am Reply

    Hey Everybody, I’m from Detroit Michigan and my father passed away July 30th,2020 at 51. His cause of death was COVID-19 smh. I’m just lost all the way around the board guys. I cry out of nowhere them I’m mad etc. just a bowl of emotions that I’m used to being able to control them to a certain extent. I’m lashing out by mistake, isolating myself, I barely eat. To tell the honest truth it’s how he died that eats me up. We couldn’t even be by his side while he was going through it smh. I feel like I abandoned him. I want to harm myself sometimes but I think about my kids and I just can’t. I’m 28 years old and I thought I felt lost before the passing of my father but now I feel like I’m in the twilight zone. Nobody talks to me about it or ask how I’m feeling. I just need to be around some love but I don’t think anybody sees that. It pisses me off to see people I care about acting like this towards me because they all know if the shoe was on the other foot I would be right there no matter what! I’m just all over the place and I just don’t feel like I belong on this earth anymore…

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    • IsabelleS  October 14, 2020 at 12:36 pm Reply

      Erick, I am so sorry for your loss and for this immense pain you are experiencing. It may not feel like it, but everything you just described is completely normal and valid during the grieving process. I hear that you are feeling some guilt over how your father passed, which is also so normal and okay. I suggest you check out this post: https://whatsyourgrief.com/guilt-and-grief-2/ If you are thinking of hurting yourself, or even if you just need someone to talk with, please call the National Suicide Helpline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website where you can do a live online chat https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

  4. Paola  October 12, 2020 at 11:41 pm Reply

    My husband died 1 year ago and I’m still crying and talking to him I forgot is face what is wrong with me?

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    • Raina mitchell  October 22, 2020 at 8:16 am Reply

      Goodmorning Paloa,
      No there’s ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with you. You are feeling and going through the worst times of your LIFE!! I’m as well are having and going through the most difficult stages in my life. I lost my HUSBAND, last year in January. He was diagnosed with stage 4 COLON CANCER. And I just want to say to you, I’m extremely sorry for the loss of your AMAZING HUSBAND. May GOD, give you STRENGTH daily, guide you into his warmth of PEACE.
      Here’s my phone number and when you feel like talking, feel free to call me at any time. MAY GOD CONTINUE TO KEEP YOU AND BUILD HIS STRENGTH THROUGH OUT YOUR MIND AND BODY. IN JESUS NAME, I PRAY UNTO HIM ❤

      My name is Raina
      [PHONE NUMBER REMOVED]

  5. Joyce  October 10, 2020 at 8:19 pm Reply

    I struggle greatly with how my husband died. On June 23rd, 2018, I found out that my husband had taken his life. I’ve been having a really hard day today. COVID-19 has made things so incredibly worse. I am raising my 2-year-old granddaughter alone. I always thought that we’d grow old together. In a couple of years, it would’ve been our 25th anniversary. I’m really dreading it! I’m gonna have to move out of this house some day and I’m really dreading that as well. I moved into this house with Rob and I’m gonna have to move out without him. I’m probably going to be a basket case. I’m a Canadian and this Monday is Thanksgiving. I was supposed to go with my granddaughter to my parents’ with my sister and her husband tomorrow. It’s now been cancelled because of Coronavirus. My dad had a stroke last December and it’s really getting to me. My friend was supposed to stay for the night tonight but I was feeling very depressed and she thought that maybe she should go home and come back another time. That’s what she does when she’s feeling down. I need someone when I’m feeling down. I’m in recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder and I feel so abandoned by everybody! I really need someone to be with me and my feelings.

    • IsabelleS  October 11, 2020 at 2:23 pm Reply

      Joyce, I am so sorry for your loss and for this pain you are feeling. Losing someone to suicide is so extremely difficult… I suggest you check out this blog post: https://whatsyourgrief.com/grieving-suicide-death/. Everything you are feeling is normal and acceptable. Is there anyone you can reach out to for support? Perhaps your parents or sister? I hope this helps.

  6. Latasha Hudson  October 9, 2020 at 12:42 pm Reply

    I am so glad I came across this site. I have been going through a lot since my husband passed away on April 21, 2020. This was so upsetting for me. My husband had been fighting cancer since 2015. He started out at what we thought was stage 2 colon cancer after his surgery on February 2020. After 12 rounds of chemotherapy we thought he was cancer free. Well six months later we found out that the cancer had metastasized to his liver. He had to go back on chemotherapy. Two weeks after that we found out that he had prostate cancer. Now he has to fight and be treated for two cancers. He took chemotherapy from September 2015 until February 2020. A long time for all that poison in your body. I stopped working in 2017 to take care of him. He found out that the prostate cancer had metastasized to his spine and bones in February 2020. He has about seven rounds of radiation and after that he started to get very ill. In and out of the hospital without me being able to be there with him due to Covid 19. He came home from his last hospital visit in April and his doctor suggested hospice. I was so shocked because prior to radiation I thought he was doing pretty good, but of course I was not able to go in to the cancer center with him anymore due to Covid 19, so I really did not know what the doctors had told him because he was not telling me much. I only found out three days before his death, from his doctor that she had been trying to tell him that there was not much more that they could do for him. He was so strong not ever trying to give up so he kept quiet about it because he was trying to protect me and my feelings. Thats how he was, a good husband. I brought him home on hospice to let him die in our bed because that’s what he wanted. He did not ever like hospice before he got sick we both felt that way about hospice. I never knew it would come to that. My problem is I feel like I should have talked to him more about what to do for him and I feel so bad because I do not know if the hospice made him die faster or if I did the right thing. I am making myself miserable with thoughts. I keep hearing what he said to me before he passed away. He got up enough energy to tell me he did not want to die. All I could say was what did you say and he did not repeat it, I kow he knew I heard him but I couldn’t say anything. I was totally lost for words with tears in my eyes. After he passed away, this has haunted me and I thought of everything that I could have said. I am so broken hearted about that. I just need to be at peace with myself that I did the right thing and know that he was ok. I took very good care of my husband and I know it but the death was just to fast fo me I feel like I missed my last conversation that I should have had with him. We always talked about everything but never about what to do when it came to he or I having to take care of one of us dying before the other. I know that we shoud have talked about it with him being so sick. We were in denial the whole time that he was sick. He was a Godly man and he had so much faith that he would be healed here on earth even as sick as he was. So we never talked about it. I can say that I learned from it though! I just wish I could feel better it seems like I am not going to get better some days. Sorry for the long message but as I was writing It helped me feel good to express my feelings.

    • IsabelleS  October 10, 2020 at 3:06 pm Reply

      Hi Latasha, I’m so very sorry for your loss and for the tremendous pain you are being made to endure. My heart sincerely goes out to you. Please don’t apologize for leaving a long comment… If it made you feel even an ounce of relief, it was worthwhile. This community is here for you. All the best to you.

  7. Mary  October 7, 2020 at 5:23 am Reply

    My son died 2 years ago at 33 from a rare bone marrow cancer. 2 years and 11 days to be exact, I spent yesterday just yearning for him, he was an absolute joy in my life and I can’t accept that he is gone. I was with him when he died and I relive it every day. I spent the 6 months of hospitalisation with him, I’m far from recovery and I feel life is just functional. There are worse things that your own death, I’ll welcome it when it comes.

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    • IsabelleS  October 7, 2020 at 10:48 am Reply

      Mary, I am so sorry for your loss and for this immense pain you are enduring. I cannot begin to imagine how you are feeling. However, I want to remind you that you are not alone in this and that your feelings are normal and okay. If you are thinking of hurting yourself, or even if you just need someone to talk with, please call the national suicide helpline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website where you can do a live online chat https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. Hope this blog brings you some peace.

  8. Sharon  October 3, 2020 at 9:35 am Reply

    I posted here one week ago and my father passed away the next day, Sept. 27, 2020. All I want is to be left alone to grieve but there were the business matters of the funeral to which I had to tend. Questions to be answered, decisions to be made, etc. I felt like a petulant child who just wanted to wallow in my sorrow and leave all the business matters to ‘adults’ to handle (I’m 58)! I’m the only child and my mother has Alzheimer’s so she will be living with my husband and me now that my father is gone. Grieving has had to take a back seat to all the practicalities at hand which is making me feel angry and bitter inside. Hoping these feelings are temporary and I will soften as time goes on.

  9. John Bloom  October 2, 2020 at 4:00 pm Reply

    My fiance passed away August 8th 2020. Worst day of my life. We have been together 27 years. I got ready for work went to kiss her awake she had passed in the night from an aneurysm that exploded. Talk about lost confused lonely you don’t know what to do. I relive the moment constantly that I found her dead in our bed it’s haunting me I don’t know what to do I don’t know what to do

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    • Patty  October 2, 2020 at 4:22 pm Reply

      John, I completely understand what you are feeling. My wife had a brain aneurysm that ruptured, while we were all together in our living room with my step son, 7 years old. I had to resuscitate her, while calling 911 and sending my step son upstairs. I was hysterical and yelling. It was horrific. I felt her go, while performing CPR. I relive the trauma everyday. Everyone tells me that with time it will get better, but I don’t see that happening. Day by day, is all I can do. And focus on today, only. Easier said, then done.

      • John Bloom  October 7, 2020 at 11:26 am

        Hey Patty I am really and truly sorry for your loss.I wish there was something I could say to make your pain go away but there’s not. They say time will make it feel easier it will get better etc etc. The pain that I am feeling right now every single day is unbearable she was my everything. When she suddenly passed away she took three quarters of my soul and my spirit I am a broken man just going through the motions. Yearning for her and missing her everyday just one More kiss one more hug which I’m never going to get I have to sign off now because I am overcome with emotion sharing your pain and grief John bloom

  10. Patty  September 30, 2020 at 1:47 am Reply

    My spouse/best friend/love of my life/my heart and soul passed away sudden and unexpected. She was 36 years old and I had attempted to resuscitate her. We don’t know what took her from me, it was either a stroke or brain aneurysm. I’m heart broken, my soul is shattered. This is not fair. We were raising our kids together, after failed marriages to men. I have lost her and my 7 year old step son. We have been raising our children together for the last 5 1/2 years. She was my life, my everything. I have never adored a person as much as I adored her. I was planning to take care of her and us for the rest of our lives. I am completely lost and miss her more than words can ever say.

    • IsabelleS  September 30, 2020 at 12:34 pm Reply

      Hi Patty, I am so sorry for your loss. As difficult as it may be, the pain you are experiencing is normal and okay. It sounds like you are grieving not only the loss of your love, but also the loss of your stepson. You may want to check out this post: https://whatsyourgrief.com/secondary-loss-one-loss-isnt-enough/. You are not alone. I hope this brings you some comfort.

  11. Karen  September 26, 2020 at 1:20 am Reply

    My husband passed; painfully and unexpected 2019; he awoke 0700 with severe chest pain; requesting I drive him to the hospital approx 20 mins away. I wanted to call an ambulance but he wouldnt let me saying if I didnt want to, he would drive himslef. As a clinical nurse i made the decision to drive him rather then argue; I knew his reaction was a mixture of fear; confusion and denial. He was fast tracked into critical care; he suffered 3 heart attacks in ER; was then QAS transferred to the cardiac surgical hospital where he had an additional 4 heart attacks; he was pronounced RIP at 2300hrs. The surgeon told me he had never seen such a bad heart in such a young person; they had tried to advance 8 stents but vessels were too blocked. I will never unsee the pain on his deceased face…For me; I struggle with guilt; even though I know it isnt my fault; my world has changed yet the world goes on; people go on; but grief keeps me stuck; i dont care about much anymore; yet I have to go to work; the sun still rises and falls. Not long after my husband passed our dog followed (5mths) bone cancer.. i have never know such pain; its given me insite into a whole new level. Grief…from my perspective; grief process is relative to how much support you have; when left to ones self the brain can be very damaging to the recovery processes of grief.

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  12. James  September 19, 2020 at 12:13 am Reply

    Life can be so so cruel. My dad died of MS in 1966. The VA had tried shock therapy which totally destroyed him. His body atrophied and he was racked with pain. My memories are of hearing both my parents crying in desperation. My dad died of fluid in the lungs. We had a country doctor come to our house and clear his lungs, it was not pleasant for anyone to see and hear my dad cry. I was 14 when my dad died. My mom went into an immediate melt down, she had a blue funk or whatever the term they used in the 60s. She had a complete mental/emotional break down. She lost the will to live. My memories are of yelling at my mom to eat. Then it happened. I got a call at like 5 am from my sister. I was staying at a friends house. She said come home now. My mom was in the chair that was where the hospital bed was in the family room. Her head was down, she had an unlit cigarette in her hand. She had died. She was wearing a robe. I was 16. I did not try anything to help my mom. She died of an accidental overdose, but in reality she died of a broken heart. She had fluid in the lungs too. As the EMTs were transferring my mom from the chair to the gurney her robe opened up. Why lord is the last picture in my mind is of seeing my moms totally nude body. Life is so cruel. I need to say about six months earlier, my sister’s fiancé was racing his VW Beetle and lost control and hit the curb and rolled and snapped his neck. My sister and I had to ID the body. I had never seen a grey looking body before. About six months after my mother died my best friend was riding his motorcycle on a late Sunday night. My sister and I went to the ER to ID the body. I was 17. I was allowed to stay with my sister who was awarded custody of me. At 18 our grandfather died. So, if you are counting that is five close, personal deaths I experienced in five years. I became a raging alcoholic who hated god. Through my own living hell and the support of AA I found peace. I have chronic PTSD and Major Depression. I have had three heart attacks. I have not wanted to live a lot more days than I have wanted to live. But here I sit still trying to figure all this out. I am sober, one day at a time. I have found a higher power whom I’ll call god that is a loving caring god. You would not believe the blackout drunks I went through before I finally made it to AA. It is a miracle I did not kill anyone with a vehicle and for that I am grateful. I resisted a long time taking psychotropic medications because my mom overdosed on them. Taken as prescribed they have given me relief. I am still a damaged soul but I do not look for ways to die now. There is hope though, and opening up is so critical to get your feelings out. I see the world different for sure, don’t say I am on a pity pot but unless you have been in my shoes you would not understand that i have no joy in life with one huge exception and that is my son who never saw me drunk and he accomplished everything I never got a chance to do as a child and yes that does make me happy.

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    • Mary  October 1, 2020 at 11:03 am Reply

      It’s incredible you made it through. I haven’t found peace through God because I’m still angry about the cruelty that’s served to us. I don’t know how you came to terms with that? Proud of you for quitting drinking for yourself and son. My Dad is an alcoholic and I have seen many grieving alcoholics die terribly of liver failure in the hospital (I’m a nurse). The loss of you would have been a continuation of pain for someone else. It’s why I refuse to lose myself. I have lost hope in God’s love but not in myself. Your strength is admirable.

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  13. Gary B  September 18, 2020 at 5:55 pm Reply

    Its been 2 years and I constantly revisit my wifes death. In fact I revisit from her diagnosis to the 2 months she was given and was all she got. I am still in this “hamster roll ball” of a life going back and forth with my 2 sons who were with me though it all. At any moment we try and think again about what was done-what was said- what happened-why we missed things-WHY HER? I dont expect it to ever stop until I take my own final breath. I am 66-she passed at 62. She deserved better and damn it so did I.

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    • John Bloom  September 23, 2020 at 10:35 pm Reply

      Hey Gary sorry for your loss. I was with my wife for 27 years through good times bad times ugly times. She was the glue that held me together. She suddenly passed in her sleep a month and a half ago I woke up to go to work and kiss her goodbye and she was gone. My whole world shattered I am now a lost shell of a man. I miss her so bad I don’t know what to do I feel your pain as I am going through it right now

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  14. Helene  September 18, 2020 at 12:50 pm Reply

    My sister died alone of what was likely an overdose.
    She had recently transistioned from living in a shelter, to sharing a small apartment with a friend she met at the shelter.
    When I got the call about her death, no one could say for sure how long she had been dead for, a neighbour found her.
    She died alone.
    Was it an accident? Was it suicide? Did she suffer? Was she aware of what was happening?
    All unasnwered questions.
    Not much info from medical examiners office…a tired sounding man…cause of death; “inconclusive, no foul play”
    I live on the other side of the country, and never physically went there to deal with her death.
    I let the local social service agencies arrange for funeral home, cremation burial etc.
    I was too afraid to go in person, too afraid to see how and where she lived. Too afraid to possibly encounter the people she associated with.
    Afraid of all the unknowns.
    Thirteen years later, and I live with pain, regret, blame, shame, and such a deep seated anguish that no one seems to understand. I don’t speak of her much, because experience has taught me that most people just don’t “get it”. When I have tried to open up about my grief, some people have said,”But it was so long ago.” OR, even worse, ” Well, she chose to live her life like that, it’s not your fault,”
    I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, and say I don’t think they intended their comments to be as hurtful as they came out. Maybe….but let me say, it felt like a knife being twisted in my heart. And the lesson I learned? Don’t ever open up to anyone….because no one understands!
    How can I explain that I still wake up with my heart clenching and aching with saddness. That she’s in my dreams, and that I’m always so happy to see her in those dreams and want to wrap my arms around her and just love her. Then I wake up….and feel the weight of my sorrow crushing me, breaking my heart. She’s gone.
    How can I explain the level of guilt I feel for not being there for her…for not trying harder to help her out, for not better understanding her addiction? How can I explain how terrible I feel when I imagine her death…alone. Or was she alone? Was someone with her? Did they panic and run when she overdosed, leaving her there to die on her own?
    So many questions….
    My logical brain tells me there was nothing I could have done to save her, but my heart never lets me off the hook that easily. My internal dialogue is cruel and punishing and relentless. I don’t know if I ever will find any peace….my sisters death haunts me and feels like a weight I carry always. One that no one else can see, or feel.

    It felt good writing these words and thoughts which I rearely share with anyone else….thank you.

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    • Joanne Nascimento  September 19, 2020 at 9:25 pm Reply

      Helene.One of the keys in our tragic journey is to forgive yourself. I too have tormented myself.Please forgive yourself,talk to ur sister,tell her everything you feel,cry,let go,ask her forgiveness,and with time,u will forgive yourself. Love,forgiveness and hopefully, eventually peace.

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    • Charmaine Tunn  September 20, 2020 at 9:55 pm Reply

      Helene and Joanne
      I know your pain. My only son died 16 months ago of a drug overdose (they think). He too was alone and, I found out afterwards, had struggled with addiction for some years. I had no idea. I should have recognised the signs; instead I chose to believe he was just lazy and didn’t want to work. I was awful to him in those last 6 months, really awful. Now I am plagued by thoughts of his struggle, what I could have done if only I had known. As his mother, it should have been me who looked past his behaviours, and concentrated on him, and what he meant to me (everything). No second chances; he is gone. I feel terrible guilt and self-loathing, as well as indescribable sadness and loneliness. I don’t have a magic bullet for anyone, but I have a mantra: ‘I am sorry, please forgive me. I forgive you everything. I love you. Thank you.’

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    • Mary  October 1, 2020 at 11:11 am Reply

      I agree with talking to your sister and letting it all and releasing it. I can understand why you feel how you feel. I think I would to, it normal. Everything you explained makes sense. I don’t believe she suffered. I have been a nurse for many years and when people make it, they have no recollection of pain or suffering. I think the suffering is when people have cancers for long periods of time and are very sick. With sudden accidents I’ve never had any one wake up and tell me they remembered anything. If you have ever been put under anesthesia it’s similar to that. You just go to sleep. I hope that can remove that tiny little detail from your suffering.

  15. AB  September 18, 2020 at 11:40 am Reply

    I’m not sure that it’s the “how” my dad died that haunts me as much as the fact that he died, period. He was old and his heart was failing him. We knew it, he knew it. But he had overcome heart problems many times before. I guess I just thought there would be more time. I’m grateful and glad that I spent so much time with him prior and that I was there but I do wish that in the time I had alone with him overnight, before he died, that I would have done more, like try to talk to him or hold his hand. He didn’t seem conscious and I didn’t want to disturb him. I hoped he just felt my presence. Still can’t emotionally believe he is gone and that I can’t talk to him anymore.

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    • Sharon  September 26, 2020 at 12:58 am Reply

      AB, my dad is dying now—any day now. I sit with him and lightly rub his arm and speak gently to him so as not to bother him. He is unresponsive but they say hearing is the last to go so I tell him I love him but that we’ll all be okay. Hospice was his choice. He was tired of fighting the good fight and said he didn’t want to be poked and prodded anymore. That’s hard when a loved one makes that choice and they don’t have to die. I’m thrilled to have been able to share his last year with him living with us. But where to go from here? I feel guilty that I couldn’t make him want to fight anymore. Is there something more I should have done as his daughter? Did I say the right things? Why does it have to end like this? What’s the point of it all? I know they feel our presence when we are sitting beside them while they start their new journey but it’s a lonely feeling. I am sorry for your loss. Anticipatory grieving is tough and I’m not looking forward to mourning my father’s loss but it’s inevitable.

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      • Rasika  September 28, 2020 at 5:02 pm

        Sharon
        I was in the same boat 2 months back
        My dad also chose not to be poked. He hsaid dnt keep me alive on a ventilator and turn me into a mummy
        He said it and i kept his honour
        It pains a lot , the pain wont go away
        No matter what anyone says nothing will gv u solace
        But their is only one thing that can help
        That you are not alone in this there is me and many like us . Whenever (which is almost many times a day) i feel my legs give way i tell myself im not alone , its not just me
        Hope it helps
        May God give u strength

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      • cristy h. j.  November 20, 2020 at 1:23 am

        My Daddy passed on 9/8/20 after a 2 year fight against leukemia and he also chose hospice – he wouldn’t NOT die in a hospital like his own mother did – she also lost her battle with leukemia. It’s been 72 days since he passed. I feel honored to be able to be the one to provide selfless loving care to help him transition, but providing hospice is SO emotionally complicated. Yes, I did as he wished, yes, he was given better care than he would have been given by strangers in a hospital. But many things can complicate processing this experience. My mom/sister depending on me for EVERYTHING, but I was also told to “Back Off” – and “you’re too focused on lab results” – then “Help explain what these labs mean”….We also knew death with inevitable, but goodness, that is ZERO consolation when they are no longer here, and I pray you aren’t like me who is left shattered without YOUR biggest support system – it’s just the oly immediate family remaining, who have their “bond”, and it’s clear you don’t fit . HE was MY partner in my family – me/daddy, sister/mom…my entire 41 years with him as my supporter, and now, I feel in complete turmoil and I have no idea where to go from here. From one daughter to another, I will pray for you! Find the best support system/people available (friends/family/counselor/pastor)… and anticipatory grief is HARD! I thought I was losing it, but once daddy was gone, I had NO IDEA the depths that one can experience with grief. I believe that grief and loss in general, regular LIFE stressors (kids/bills/etc) can be extremely exhausting. Throw in extra things like hospice, trauma, guilt/anger, family strife…sometimes it truly seemed unsurvivable. BUT, I am still here, 72 days later – much different, but I’m here. And I am sending you well wishes and positivity for an abundance of grace and patience (for yourself and other loved ones), inner strength from wherever you can find it, and I send lots of heartfelt prayers.

    • Rasika  September 28, 2020 at 4:52 pm Reply

      Its so painful like an open sore i lost my dad 20 ofJuly and i havent slept since then .i have turned into a zombie i cant get myself out of the ICU im standing next to his ifeless body sometimes im standing next to him when he ws alive and lying to him that hes getting better .sometimes i wondering how he is still breathing with that bipap machine . I cant stop thinking about him in a painfull way . I cry while cooking / exercising/bathing . He was suffering from cancer yes i knew he has less time but still when it happens you are never ready . I just miss him so much that it feels worthless to carry on i cannot say this to my daughter and husband but the pain is eating me . Only way i found this one line to calm myself when im about to burst is “im not alone” – im not alone in my grief , there r millions of us grieving , and there is some reason or the other we are still around maybe our spouses and kods maybe our siblings , maybe GOD just wants us to carry on . At the end all the feelings of despair : guilt:sorrow are now we have to taper down , they will not go away no matter what anyone says: but hoping someday i will sleep and the sounds of icu will fade a bit , i will be able to remember him without crying

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  16. Eloise  September 18, 2020 at 9:57 am Reply

    My husband died 5 months ago. He was in a nursing home after a hospital stay. He was in isolation because of covid. I always wake up around 5 am, thinking of him alone, was he scared, hoping he was asleep. He had called me a few days before his death, late at night, to tell me he loved me and wish me a good night. I remember and hold on to that call because he was in good spirits. It gives me some comfort.

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  17. Debbie  September 18, 2020 at 12:41 am Reply

    My son died suddenly at the age of 38, he did live with his dad and I. He death was discovered through a well check call from his work after five days. Along with the police report I want any pictures of the scene that were taken. My husband thinks I am very sick to want these, but I just need to know and see his death. Is it mentally unhealthy? He was my only child and I loved him very much.

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    • Charmaine Tunn  September 20, 2020 at 10:01 pm Reply

      Debbie please see my post above a little way. My son was 34 and was found 6 days after he died. I too want to see the photos but I just haven’t be able to ask for them as yet. I think we want to see them because NOT knowing how those last moments were for our child seems worse. I think about it, not constantly any more (thank god), but still often. I think of the sun rising and setting on those days after his death; the absolute stillness of his flat, of him lying there: just horrific. I wonder if anyone else has been helped by seeing such photos? All the best.

  18. Robert Marshall  September 17, 2020 at 3:31 pm Reply

    It’s been almost six months since my wife left me. The what and how questions continue to haunt me. The last squeeze of her hand in mine as she departed. my total break down as the doctor asked about about FINAL Directives 48 hours before and every so often after until I signed a DNR hours before she left. The tears and the shakes (even now) as I think about it. the hurt and pain of the memory that will last as long with me as I am on this earth…………………

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  19. Glenda Galbreath  September 17, 2020 at 11:27 am Reply

    I lost my daughter 10 minutes after her birth in 1984. I learned after a short amount of time that people stopped being present in my grief after a couple of weeks. After trying to work through the grief I put on my make up and went out in the world like a clown. I functioned for everyone because that was expected of me. I wrapped her and my grief in a pretty box and ribbon and put her away. I can only unwrap the box and deal with her a little but if the time.

    I had a lot of guilt that I did something wrong during the pregnancy but she had 3 true knots in her cord that tightened as she was born.
    Grieving was so intense I thought I had lost my mind. Now I work on it a little after a time. I had 3 children after her and now grandkids. They all know, about her and some of them go to the grave with me. I have often wondered how life would have been if she really was here and a part of our lives.

    I learned over the years that I wasn’t even allowed to fully grieve her at the viewing and funeral. I should have been allowed to scream and yell and cry loudly. I had to restrain my grief for everyone else and their comfort. We need to allow people to openly grieve. Maybe I wouldn’t have packed her in that little box. I probably didn’t deal with her loss for years because I was expected to move on.

    I will always miss her. She remains close to my heart where she was the time I had her.

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    • Melinda Schmidt  September 18, 2020 at 9:37 am Reply

      I have never had your experience (my pain is about my dad’s passing) but I wanted you to know I see you, I see your story, I hear the completely understandable pain. I’m so sorry and stand with you in this grief.

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  20. Tonia  September 16, 2020 at 6:59 pm Reply

    We had been told by the hospice doctor that our 44 year old son who had stage 4 lung cancer had only a few days to live. The next day I stayed home while my husband went to him as did two of his close friends. He died that morning and I regret not being there for him, but my husband has assured me that it was best for me. I still dont know if it was a quiet death or if he was struggling. My husband said it was fairly peaceful but the ” fairly” causes me agony. My son always made light of his illness. Not sure if he was in denial or if he wanted to spare us. I find meself thinking of those last days over and over again, especially him asking me, ” Is there so something I should know?” I couldn’t answer him. I just kissed him and told him I loved him. I feel like a coward and a failure. And that grates on me every day since February 29th. I’m 74 and dont want to live the rest of my life this way. I had pictured him, my daughter and my husband at my bedside when I pass but yet I wasn’t there for him.

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    • Melinda Schmidt  September 18, 2020 at 9:47 am Reply

      I can only imagine how difficult it is to have a son pass before his parents. All your questions are understandable. The “what-ifs” are so hard. I have them about my dad’s passing which I was present to. The only thing that helps me is to know he would now say to me, “Forget about it. I’m fine. It doesn’t matter now! I made it through.” I know this also sounds dismissive of pain, but I also know my dad would say that! And yet, I still relive his passing and the particulars about it that I wish I could have changed. Hugs to you iin this miserable grief. Great grief means great love was had. You loved and CONTINUE to love your son with all you’ve got. What a mom.

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  21. Liz  September 16, 2020 at 5:07 pm Reply

    I’m trying to make sense out of the tragedy. I’m drowning in it

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  22. kathy  September 16, 2020 at 1:21 pm Reply

    my husband had maid (medial assistance in death),he was very close to dying from an aggressive form of cancer. He chose this way because of witnessing his father’s death, struggling to breath. Almost all of his adult kids and some adult grandchildren were there in the room. None of them had ever witnessed a death, I have so I was prepared, or so I thought. He went very peacefully and surrounded by love. I think that some of them are struggling because of being there, a memory that will always be there. I’ve been judged by this and those who have judged me are no longer in my life. He got to chose, not many of us get to do that. I’m grateful that he died in my arms and I heard his last heartbeat, but I am also haunted by it.

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    • DeAnna Rose LaFrombois  October 29, 2020 at 2:56 am Reply

      My name is DeAnna and my baby boy 17 years old hung himself April 17th this year. I still don’t believe it was him or his choice. They ruled it a suicide. My son struggled with addiction and depression but more like the manic type of depression. My son was very self involved. Conceited. Thats the word. I still cant believe he did it. Not my Oscar. Not my angel boy son-son. He wouldnt leave me in such a way. He was suppose to break me out the old folks home. He was my mini me. I have 7 babies but Oscar 3rd and was my best friend. In November he was really high and paranoid and swore someone was trying to kill him. He made me promise that if anything happened to him i wouldnt believe it was his choice because he would never leave me. His words keep playing over and over in my head. I cant imagine my baby choosing to leave me. I know you probably are saying the same thing everyone else is saying. It’s just the grief. No it’s not. My babies death was ruled a suicide but i know he wouldn’t leave me like that. I am losing it. I dont know what to do. I have to learn to stop crying but cant. I cant get past this. Focus on the other kids i heard that too. Its not that simple. I wish it was. I think about joining him because i cant face this world without my bestfriend. He was suppose to break me me out the old folks home when his sisters lock me up. Who’s gonna break me out now? Who’s gonna take me dancing when I can’t remember my name? I just don’t know. I just wish I would have gotten a call or message or a later or anything. I have no trust in anyone or anything. I hear him crying out “Mom Mom MOOMMM!!!” I awake screaming Son Son just come home. Its a bad dream dream right and I’m gonna wake up someday right this cant go on forever. I know focus on the other kids you have to carry on. Well show me how because I cant see a way out.

      • IsabelleS  October 29, 2020 at 11:48 am

        DeAnna, I am so very sorry for your loss and for this pain you are enduring. Even if it was a suicide, please know that mental illness can be all-consuming. Regardless of how he died, your son did not want to leave you. There is no way out of the grief, but there is a way through. I suggest you seek out the help of a therapist trained in grief, which you can find here: https://grief.com/grief-counselor-directory/. All the best to you.

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