Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and Grief

My brother Rick is in the hospital tonight with pneumonia. Since I was a child, we had to be sure to get him right to the hospital if there was a chance he had pneumonia. You see, my brother is handicapped--he can't walk; he's never been able to walk, so he is in a wheelchair. Being in a wheelchair over all those years, (he is 58), Rick's muscles have gotten weaker and weaker, so contracting pneumonia can be extremely serious when he doesn't have the muscle-power to cough enough to clear his lung congestion.

By this evening after intravenous antibiotics, Rick is doing better, but isn't out of the woods yet (he's still in Intensive Care). He reflected back over the day with my sisters who have been with him since 8:00 this a.m. that he thought for awhile there he really wasn't gonna make it. No wonder my sisters had called me (I'm five hours away), tearful and frightened this morning. Tommy and I prayed intensely for him all day. I'm so thankful God heard and is answering all our prayers!

Having lost my daughter, I find myself getting traumatized when anything bad happens to someone I love. The possibility of losing them has become all-too-real to me. So my body and emotions fast-forward ahead to the worst possibility, and I'm there, fearful and grieving the worst.

Even though I'm a therapist, I forget that Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome can happen right along with grief. When I get triggered (like if one of my sons forgets to call me when going away, and I hit near-panic over the possibilities), knowledge doesn't seem to phase my emotions. Even though I might know intellectually that the odds are great he just forgot to call, my body and emotions are already traumatized, and there's not much I can do to undo them at that point.

Grief can be so complex and complicated. It is almost impossible to help someone else to understand all the intricacies involved with grief where one thing affects another, affects another, and so on. (I can't even understand complicated grief, and I'm living it!) Some days, I can hardly function when the grief has been intense; okay, I'll admit . . . at some level, that pain is always fairly debilitating; for it not to be debilitating is the exception.

That's one reason I'm so glad I can write during this time--doing something productive when just about everything else is "high" on the dysfunctional scale. Thank You, God, for Your creative juices to be flowing through me when I'm out for the count for much else.

But wait, isn't that how You always said it would be? 

"My grace is sufficient for you; for My power is made perfect when your power runs out."  2 Corinthians 12:9a

Move in and through me, Lord; I guess I am primed and ready for Your power to flow!



Callie said...

I was delighted to find your posting on Katherine Wolf's mom's blog. I read all of your blog. One of my closest friends lost his sister over a year ago. She was eighteen and a few months away from graduating from high school. She was on her way to church. I went to her visitation and got into a really severe car accident on the way the very next day. I was not expected to survive. Your most recent post (written on the one year anniversary of my accident) about post-traumatic stress really hit home. I have suffered nightmares and am also fearful of losing others. (With Ashley dying and then almost dying myself all in a two-day period, it was a lot of death to deal with at lunch.) I will add your family to my prayer list, for sure. I cannot imagine the pain you are going through.

Grieving Mother/Therapist, Angie Bennett Prince said...

Dear Callie,

Thank you for tuning in to my blog; I am glad you found me through Katherine Wolf and her mom. Aren't they precious people? I love Katherine's courage and her bubbly personality despite all the challenges she is facing. And her mother Kim is so kind to share with her own pain and sorrow over the losses both she and her daughter are experiencing. May God bless them in their grief, and strengthen them for the battles-in-growth to come. I am praying for God's healing for Katherine's body, and thanking Him for sparing her mind and personality despite such devastating onslaughts to her brain.

Callie, thank you for sharing Ashley Bond-Peters' blog; I read all of it. (It really is a small world; I am from Athens, Georgia, and my mother was raised down the road a ways from Monroe, in Bostwick, GA!)

Ashley seems like she was a beautiful young lady, both inside and out. I feel so much sorrow for her mother, Tammy. From her writings, she too was close to her baby girl, so I am sure her pain is tremendous.

I'm also sorry for the tragic loss your friend is experiencing in the death of his sister. From reading the blog, Ashley and Regis were really close as well; it seems he lost not only a sister, but a best friend too. (Be sure to tell him he might want to read my son Nathan's post on my blog entitled, "What Was Lost, In Darkness Found" where Nathan describes some of the great grief he feels in the loss of his baby sister, who was also his best friend.) May God comfort Regis, and all of the hearts of Ashley's friends and loved ones.

Callie, I tried to read your blog as well, but I could not seem to get beyond the Profile page. I am so thankful you survived your severe car accident! I am glad my post on Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) was of some help to you. PTSD can be quite stressful on top of the stress you endured in your accident; I guess that's why we call such stress and grief "Complicated Grief." May God hold you close as He walks you through such grief and trauma. And may our Great Physician continue to minister to all aspects of your pain and bring you His healing, body, soul, and spirit.

In His love,


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