Some Things Never Leave You – Dealing With PTSD After A Death

I haven’t posted in a while. I just haven’t been able to put my thoughts and feelings to paper recently, it’s hard to explain. But today I’m going to talk about some of the issues or PTSD symptoms someone can have after going through something like this, specifically what I go through.

First, let me give the definition of PTSD in it’s simplest form for those who do not know what it is. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event, either experiencing it or witnessing it.

Now of course there are different levels and extremes to this. It is not the same for everyone, definitely not black and white. For some if may be so bad that they can not function normally in life anymore, for others it’s still very real but not as extreme.

I’m not going to get into specific details about that day, the day I lost my husband, but I am going to explain a little of what happened. That day I was the one that found my husband, I was the one that called 911, I was the one that was trying so desperately to save him while waiting for the ambulance to get there…it was a dark day. I’ve never in my life felt fear like that. I pray I never feel fear like that again. It was something I can never explain to anyone. I think back to that day and those moments and all I remember was the fear…such soul crushing fear. Some details I’m not sure I even remember, my mind blocks them out, but I remember enough.

Since that day I have certain things that bring on anxiety, bring that fear back and take me back to that day. The first one I’ll discuss is people sleeping. I don’t like seeing people sleeping at all now. I’m always nervous they won’t wake up. If they are very still, I start to feel “the fear” again as I go to check them. If my stepchildren sleep in longer than normal I always have anxiety when I walk in their rooms to get them up. I’m terrified I will relive the events of that day with someone else I love. I can’t fully explain it but trust me, it’s not fun. I hate it.

Another thing is that I haven’t been able to go into a Walmart since. I didn’t shop at Walmart much anyway but that day, after I picked up my stepdaughter from preschool, we stopped at Walmart before going home. For me, Walmart will always be the place I was while my husband was dying and needed me. I can’t seem to walk through those doors again. One day there was something I needed and a friend of mine told me they sell them at Walmart. I planned to go and just face my fear of it but I couldn’t. I simply couldn’t talk myself into going to Walmart. I’ve always hated Walmart anyway, the lines, the waiting…you know what I’m talking about. But now, I hate it for a whole different reason. Logically I know Walmart has nothing to do with it but it doesn’t seem to matter. I picture myself, with my stepdaughter, walking around Walmart and getting food to cook for dinner and getting little odds and ends, and all the while having no idea what was happening at home. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to walk through those doors again. Maybe never.

While in Walmart that day I had tried to call my husband twice. He didn’t answer. I remember thinking to myself “Oh good. Maybe he fell asleep and is getting some rest.” He hadn’t sleep well the night before and worked the 2nd shift so I wanted him to get some rest before going into work later that day. Well, the other day I was meeting my mom somewhere and I called her, no answer. I waited a little bit and then called again, still nothing. I became so panicked. I called my dad and asked if he had heard from her since she left the house and he said he hadn’t and I was then in full panic mode. If there is someone who I know usually answers my calls and who I’ve tried to call multiple times and they still don’t answer, I truly start to believe the absolute worst has happened. I was almost in tears and my anxiety was building with every passing minute that she wasn’t returning my call. I realize this was irrational, I had no reason to believe something had happened to her, the only thing that had happened was that she hasn’t answered her phone. She finally called me back and my anxieties were lifted but I realized that day I had some real fears living inside me now.

The last thing I’ll discuss is my nightmares. They just started in the last few months. The first year after I lost my husband I barely even remember dreaming, but lately the nightmares have been occurring. They aren’t every night but they are at least once a week. In the dreams my husband is usually already gone and I know he has passed away. Mostly my dreams are about losing one or both of my stepchildren. They are very realistic dreams and I wake up panicked. A lot of the time I am desperately looking for them because they have gone missing. I also dream I’m trying to save them because something has happened to them. These dreams are horrible. Once I wake up, it takes awhile to shake the feeling inside of me, the fear. I know I have a fear of losing them as I lost my husband, I have a fear of trying to save them (or anyone) and being unable to do so.

That day and the events surrounding it changed me, it brought up fears inside me. No one should ever have to go through what I did that day. I know many people have gone through it, and many more will, please just be understanding to those who have experienced such an event. There are battles going on inside them that you may not even know they are fighting.

6 thoughts on “Some Things Never Leave You – Dealing With PTSD After A Death

  1. I understand, seeing anyone sleeping will never be a peaceful thing for me. I no longer can watch my children sleep without having to wake them up. I’m so incredibly sorry you know these awful things.


  2. Thank you for articulating your fears so well. A person who hasn’t “been there” cannot fully understand, I know, but it’s easier to imagine what you and others go through because you explained it so well. I hope that the effort and process of putting it into words helps you some also. If you can name something and explain it, it loses some of its power over you. At least, that’s what they say. I hope it’s true for you. I pray that you can gradually get to a place where you may still have those fears and other feelings but they will be less powerful.

    On Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 9:01 PM, The Bluebird Widow wrote:

    > thebluebirdwidow posted: “I haven’t posted in a while. I just haven’t been > able to put my thoughts and feelings to paper recently, it’s hard to > explain. But today I’m going to talk about some of the issues or PTSD > symptoms someone can have after going through something like this, ” >


  3. Nora, it has been a long time. We grew up together in school but it has been 15+ years since we have spoken. First, I want to praise you for your strength and faith in God after your tragedy. I was moved tonight, as I was reading your post, as you described your struggles with PTSD and your seemingly never ending pain.

    I have lost “brothers” close to me while serving in the Army as a bomb tech and recently lost my 13 year old sister suddenly. As different as the circumstances between our two situations are, I can vividly relate to what you are describing.

    I too tremendously struggled with those type of symptoms for a long time and nothing seemed to make them better. People who care about you have a hard time understanding completely what you are experiencing and sometimes nothing they say seems to help. Or you just don’t want to hear it.

    Love for my family, friends, and God are what has kept me functioning and smiling. Memories remembered randomly throughout the day or the week inspire me to do better– be better. The pain doesn’t go away and I got to a certain point where I didn’t want it to. The pain became my crutch to desperately hold onto and I used it to justify to myself that I would be disrespecting them by letting it go or allowing it to become less.

    Your post reminded me how strong people are while embracing God throughout their journey. Whatever the days ahead hold for you, I do hope you find time to smile and laugh. Be inspired to hug the people you love and let God lead the way. I pray that you find peace after this long journey you are on. There is not a timetable or steps to complete but trust that God will be with you through the rough times.

    Nora, thank you for sharing because it reminded me of my turbulent times and how important it is to provide hope and prayer for those who need it. Stay strong! Remember the love and the good. Cherish life because it keeps moving. And lean on the Lord and your loved ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this message Matt! I am so so sorry to hear about the recent loss of your sister (there are no words) and I’m also sorry for the losses you endured while in the Army. I do not know what it must have been like in the Army but my dad is a Vietnam vet for the Army and while I don’t know specifically what he went through, I know he still carries burdens from that time to this day. This message was so kind and caring. I so appreciate you taking the time to write it and I thank you for any prayers sent my way. I wake up everyday and while I’m heartbroken, I am also so thankful. I couldn’t be more thankful for my stepchildren and the ability to still be in their lives. I am thankful for my family and friends. I know Erik would want me to continue to fight and live life to the fullest and I will try my hardest to do that each and every day! Nothing about this is easy but the grace God has shown me and the continuous love and support people have shown me is truly humbling. I could not be more thankful.


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