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How Do You Find Peace In A Nightmare?


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My younger sister died suddenly in February of 2010. My mom and step dad found her on her kitchen floor. I am a nursing student so my mom, who was hysterical at the time, called me and I came right away...but it was much too late, my sister had been there all night and could not be resuscitated. We are still waiting for the autopsy report (for over 7 months now) but we are fairly certain she died of an accidental drug overdose of percocet.

This was devastating for my whole family, and it was devastating for me. My parents divorced when my sister and I were quite young so my sister was the one person who was always there with me. Whether we were at my dad's, my mom's, my grandmother's, or where ever, we were always together growing up....she was the one family member who I spent the majority of my life with and we were very close.

Unfortunatley when my sister passed away, I was in the middle of taking a very intense 25 month nursing program. I was already really struggling financially so I could not afford to take any time off to deal with my grief...I had one week to help my parents plan her funeral and clean out her apartment, and then I had to return to school. It was a nightmare that I couldn't wake up from and the hardest thing I've ever gone through, and am still going through. I am finally approaching the end of my school program now and want to take some time for myself so I can deal with this repressed grief. I still feel such disbelief about the whole thing. I miss her so much and think about her every day. I try to talk about her and about what happened to her....I think that helps me to deal with the reality that she is gone, as well as to keep her memory alive. But I am really struggling, I just can't imagine a world that I can really feel okay with this....how do you ever find peace in a nightmare like this?

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I am saddened to read of your loss. Almost everybody who posts here has lost a family member too. There are no words to take away the grief. That you are planning time to grieve is a very healthy way of coping. I count 7 months that you've had to put off grieving in order to complete your obligations in a nursing program. With only one week to have made funeral arrangements and clean out your sister's apartment, I can understand how you liken your grief to a 'nightmare'. 'Disbelief' describes it well too. To digest such grave loss, I believe we need a solid block of time to be by ourselves and to be with family. You've had precious little grieving time so far. Finding that time enables us to work through our thoughts and emotions, and in a very real way we evolve. By evolve, I mean that such loss really does change us. I am well into my 50s now, and I've never changed so much in my lifetime in such a short span of time. I am now 10 months into grief after the death of my mother. No doubt, grief is a kind of suffering, but we learn from it. Grief brings maturity about life. Every generation that's ever been born watches siblings, parents, and grandparents die. That's just the nature of life itself. Some of us are fortunate and get to see our family members live long and prosperous lives. Some of us are less fortunate and watch family members cut down in the prime of life. That shortened life is a tragedy, and I am saddened you have to endure it. Now is a time you can ask all the important questions about life and death, and at least get partial answers. For all the emotions and thoughts that will work their way through you, please know you will be understood when you post in these forums. It's difficult to give advice, as the journey of grief is so personal for each individual. Most of us have had a very rough time coping with our emotions. The consensus here is that we need to give active expression to our grief, else our emotions will get buried long term and erupt in unpredictable and sometimes unhealthy ways. Many of us have kept journals to articulate what we are feeling. Some of us consult with mental health professionals. Others attend bereavement groups. Most of us find support through family and select friends. This grief and healing site is another good option. Not everybody will understand your grief, so finding support is important. Find those things that help you cope, whatever they are. So long as you work through your grief you will also find healing. Welcome to our forums, I am glad you found us.

Ron B.

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Take a class dealing with pychology. A friend did this when she was molested by a neighbor as a child and date raped in college. She repressed it all and realized a class would help her. It did. Nursing students read a book on death and dying to help their patients deal with things. A girlfriend told me a customer recognized her from her former job. She was taking nursing when she saw him in the hospital. He lost his wife in a car accident and had major broken bones. He told her about seeing the light and having to make a choice to come back. He wanted reaasurances he wasn't crazy. She told him about the book they had to read. On Death and Dying. Incorporate your loss and healing with your new profession.

I only say this cause either way you have to deal with it. You miss her but can't afford the luxury of time off.Nurses are angels as far as I'm concerned. To help others, you have to help yourself first.Linda Kay

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ron, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful message. I am truly sorry to hear of your loss as well. I admire your strength and your ability to grow and evolve from this experience. It gives me hope that I will someday as well.

Before now, I haven't been dealing with the loss of my sister very well at all. I used to be a very social person but now I find myself wanting to spend my time alone. I avoid my friends and family and I avoid situations that I will feel obligated to appear happy and normal in because I know I can't always hide this saddness. I've gained weight, have very little energy, and bounce between sleeping way too much or not at all. I am often moody which is very unlike me...I do not like this person I have become at all...it's not me, and I'm afraid I'll never be me again. There are tons of people around me and I can't seem to bring myself to talk to any of them about how I feel, about how completely devastated I am inside.

I guess I've been stuck in my grief since I haven't allowed myself to open the flood gates because I knew I had to get through this program...but now I don't know where to start. My family members are all in a different place than me. I don't have many girl friends that I'm close with, my sister was the one person I would ever confide in....now that she's gone, I feel utterly lost. I did try a bereavement group but it was for grieving parents, it wasn't a good fit for me. I looked for a group for grieving adult siblings, however there's nothing available where I live. I don't have the monetary means to seek couselling right now but I am hoping that writing here will help me to, as you said, express my grief in a more healthy way. I know I can't keep going on like I have been. I borrowed a book called "When Things Fall Apart" from a mental health nurse that I know; I'm going to read it after I'm done my final exam. I hope it helps because I really need to find some respite from this.

Lindakay, thanks for your advice as well. As I was in an accelerated nursing program, we weren't assigned the book that you mentioned but I will definitely look for it as you are certainly correct that I will have to incorporate this experience into my new profession. I will be confronted with death and dying quite often, and I would be honoured to be able to assist my patients and their families in dealing with the same.

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I lost my brother on Jan 8, 2010 to an accidental overdose of painkillers. I have to tell you that I feel as though I have been in a fog since it happened. It is very difficult to "work through" a loss like this. I too went to a bereavement group but didn't find a good fit since it was either bereaved parents or children.

I think keep posting and reading on this forum and try to find a counselor with a sliding scale.

It is SO unfair to lose a sibling this way.......and I don't think it will ever hurt less, I only think we will get more used to the hurt.

Hang in there.


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Being here on these forums will help some. Nothing is going to ever heal the kind of loss that so many of us have endured. I am so sorry about your sis. I know how close me and my best friend for 28 yrs were, I consider him my brother. I just lost him in september of this year. So mine is very raw still. As yours is because of your repressed grief. I dont know life without him by my side. I dont even know how to move forward. And I have lost several loved ones to tragic circumstances. But never has a death effected me like this one. I feel so alone. He was my councelor. He was the person that kept me grounded when something horrible spun me out. My confidant that I trusted with my life. I cant say I know how you feel, thats a pet peve of mine. NO ONE knows how any of us feel. But we can relate. And I have only been here for a few days on this forum, and I have felt some relief in reading others stories. Knowing Im not the only one in this state of mind. That I am not crazy. And it also feels good to try to comfort people who are going through something that only someone who has gone through it can speak on. I feel for you. Its a long road. You will never stop grieving your sis if you were as close as you say. But time is on your side. I feel like all the horrible things I have been through, if nothing else good comes from it all, if I can help with some heart felt comments and or be someone to chat with to someone who has never lost anyone, and feels like no one understands, then its good enough. I have lost friends and family to suicide to drug overdose, to natural causes. I watched my brother fight in a trauma center here in Las Vegas for 54 days only to watch him end up dying because of a complication after I thought he would be ok in the end. And want to agree with Lindakay, nurses are angels. Without them, the doctors would never have a patient to help. Its people like you who care for them daily and have to deal with their emotions and their swings. Emotional and physical swings. No one I have ever lost had ever made it to the hospital. But after spending 54 days in one day in and day out, I have a new respect for nurses. After he had passed, we had nurses coming up that had worked with him in trauma, (he was in trauma for 30 days and regular icu for 24 days) the nurses from trauma that had worked with him durring those 30 days had come up to the icu to console us and actually cried with us and embraced us. It was very surprising to me because of the amount of death they deal with. You will be one of those people one day who helps someone like you or me through the hardest time of their life. I know none of this helps right now and Im kinda rambling, but if you have no other recources available to you, then stick around here when you can. I am. And just being able to talk to someone who "gets it" is huge. I am so sorry about your sister. Words cant explain. Life is so hard. You will be in my prayers. Keep in touch here K?

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