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Living A Lifetime Movie

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I have come to the conclusion this year for me is suppose to be a lifetime movie. To start the year off i had to admit my son to a psychiatric hospital. He was bullied in school and wanted to die. He was also still having trouble dealing with his biological mother's death. She died of leukemia.

I get him home and less than 2 weeks later my family awoke to find my 2 year old daughter dead in her bed. She was happily playing the night before, but had died in her sleep from an undetected heart condition.

Every day is a struggle and i am in more pain than i can bear. my heart hurts. I have 3 amazing boys who need me right now but I can;t manage to be the strong mother i need to be. I am barely making it through this. Some days I don't think I will make it. I know my children and my faith ar what is keeping me alive. My boys need me and I know if I were to commit suicide I would never be able to see my beautiful daughter again. These thoughts are what keep me going.

Then this past week the 16 year old young man who lived next door decided he could not live anymore and hung himself. My boys found him and I had to break the news to his parents and help cut him down. This young man was very close to my family. My boys looked up to him like a big brother. I even looked him as family.

I can't help but be angry with him though. We already had enough difficulties in our lives and now we have to deal with this. I also feel sorry for what could have been going through his mind.

I don't sleep, my kids keep having nightmares. I have developed a claustrophobia case. I can't stay in a room for too long without it feeling like it is closing in. I can't stop crying. My mind will not shut off. I do not know what to do for myself, my family, or in general.


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Dear jesjniles,

All of us here have experienced serious grief. But your grief is particularly difficult. The shortened life of an innocent child, and the desperate act of a teenager taking his own life... These deaths have an element of tragedy or wrongness about them. Compare the passing of my mother two years ago. She lived 78 years! And lived a full life! So I can make peace with her passing. Making peace with a tragic death has got to be more difficult. To be honest about it, I can not comprehend the depth of your pain. But I am trying.

You will probably find others here who have been through a grief very similar to your own. And you'll see all the other kinds of grief as well. Though each person's grief is unique, there are many common issues that we share. The strength of our community is in providing a network of social support for everybody who grieves. And we can probably help you with specific suggestions about how to alleviate and heal some of the pain.

To try to help you now, I'll just briefly mention what helped me in the early weeks. Somehow something compelled me to take bike rides for an hour every day. The fresh air, the exercise, and the natural world about me somehow gave me some relief. In the subsequent months I started swimming at a local city pool, and that definitely helped calm me. In the 3rd month I decided to go in for psychological counseling, and though I wasn't optimistic at the time, in retrospect I am convinced it was quite helpful. In later months I started working with family photo albums. Focusing on family history helped give me some sense of purpose.

Those things that help with grief we call 'grief work'. Almost everybody here has found some activity that helps them get through the rough time. Mostly these are simple things that have some intrinsic interest, like gardening, music, pets, painting, friends, exercise, and so forth. These activities focus our thoughts and feelings on something else besides grief, pain, and loss. More ambitious grief work in subsequent months can include working with the legacy of our deceased family member.

One particularly difficult thing about grief is a feeling of impairment. We are often so constantly upset, that we are not able to focus our attention for any length of time to get work done. On some days just getting out of bed is an accomplishment. Fortunately, that feeling of impairment does lift with the passing weeks. You will feel better and more able after a month or two rolls by; please be patient.

Sometimes there are specific issues that need more immediate attention. You mentioned you were not sleeping. Many of us have had trouble sleeping. I started daily exercise to cope with this problem, and it helped. For more serious sleep issues a physician can prescribe medications. Another red-flag issue is anxiety. I had one serious anxiety attack that had me sprawled out on my bed, breathless and grasping my chest for a couple minutes. I thought it was a heart attack, but then my physician was able to identify it as anxiety. After a couple months my anxiety dissipated. If your claustrophobia anxiety is severe or persistent, you can probably get a physician to prescribe appropriate medication.

The beginning of a grief journey is the most difficult time. I hope our community can help you find your way. Welcome to our forums.

Ron B.

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My dear friend,

I am overwhelmed just reading of the magnitude of your losses, so I can only imagine what all of this must be doing to you. As I understand it, all at once you have one son who is mourning the death of his biological mother, your entire family is mourning the death of your precious daughter and their baby sister, and you're all traumatized by and mourning the death by suicide of your sons' close friend and your next-door neighbor. Not surprisingly, you're reacting with insomnia, anxiety and depression, and your sons are having post-traumatic nightmares.

I can only hope that you're not trying to cope with all of this all by yourself. You are dealing with several significant losses, which certainly complicates your grief. Coming to terms with one death is difficult enough, but coming to terms with several is even harder.

In addition to the sound advice that Ron has shared with you, I'd like to point you to some resources that I hope will be helpful (if you haven't found some of them already):

Are you familiar with The Compassionate Friends? This organization offers friendship, understanding and hope to families after the death of a child, through a network of more than 640 chapters with locations in all 50 states. According to their website, when you contact TCF's National Office (877-969-0010, email nationaloffice@compassionatefriends.org) the staff will "put together a customized packet of bereavement materials specifically chosen to apply to the situation at hand. We'll also be glad to provide contact information to the nearest TCF chapter, where the whole family can all gather with others who understand . . . To learn more about what happens when you attend TCF Chapter Meetings, visit About TCF Chapters, What to Expect, and Frequently Asked Questions." (You'll find links to this and dozens of other helpful articles, books and resources on my Death of an Infant, Child or Grandchild page.)

I don't know the age of your son whose biological mother has died, but you may find some of the material listed on this page to be helpful for him as well: Death of a Parent.

To lose a close friend to suicide is painful enough, but to have been present at the scene the way your boys were is incredibly traumatizing, and can lead to signs of post-traumatic stress (PTSD). Again, I believe strongly that the best way to deal with this is to educate yourself about this, so you'll have a better understanding of what's going on with your boys, and so you'll know what you can do to help them manage their reactions. I've assembled links to a great deal of information on my site's Suicide Loss and Traumatic Loss pages. Of course, I think talking in person to a grief counselor or family therapist would be helpful for all of you ~ and I hope you've let your sons' teachers at school know what's been happening in your family, so they can offer their support and understanding, and help you to help them, too.

As for your anxiety and insomnia, I agree with Ron that the place to start is with your primary healthcare provider. You are carrying a very heavy load, and it's important to keep yourself as healthy as possible under the circumstances so you can bear up under the strain. See Coping with Anxiety in Grief and Tips for Coping with Sleeplessness in Grief.

I suppose the most important message we can convey to you is that you are not alone in all of this, my dear. I realize that I may have overwhelmed you with Too Much Information (tmi, as they say), but if you don't have the energy to explore these suggestions, let them sit here until you're ready, willing and able ~ or find someone in your circle who may be willing to help you sort through some or all of them. There are many, many resources and sources of support available to you, if you are willing to reach out and look for them. You've made an excellent start by finding your way to this warm and caring place. You are one of us now, and I promise you that we will stand beside you and walk with you on the difficult and challenging path that lies ahead.

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Yes, I agree, your life does sound like a Lifetime movie right now. Sometimes you wonder how it seems like some families seem to go on w/o anything going wrong in their families and others seem to 'have it all' go wrong in a short time. You certainly seemed to have had more than your share. Wow. It would be now when your boys would definately need you the most and now matter how hard it is for you right now, you must be here for them. Losing their mom, sister and friend has had to have had a deep affect on them. So you need to do what it takes to help yourself you can care for them. Ask people for help, go to your pastor, take walks like Ron suggested, do fun things with your family even when you don't feel like it, and if it is affordable, take a family vacation. I know because for two years I thought I was living the life of Job (from the Bible). In two years, I buried two grandchildren, my

daughter miscarried twins and later another miscarriage, we had a home fire, my dad nearly died, and my grandma died. One day we just decided to go on a little vacation, even tho we didn't feel like it. It was the best thing we did. It wasn't elaborate but it was just a fresh perspective. The hurts were here for a long time but it helped. By the grace of God we got thru it all. I pray that your family will too.

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