Response

Response #
10
Person who died
Brother
Category
Current experience of grief
Respondent details
18-24 | Female | British
Q1: What was the nature of your relationship with the person who died?
He was my younger brother
Q2: How has the person’s death affected you during the hours, days, and weeks that followed?
Nothing was ever the same.
In the initial hours, days, and weeks that followed, I was in constant pain. I hardly slept or ate, I cried constantly, and the pain inside of me was unbearable. For around one year after his death all I wanted to do was kill myself. Doctors would only prescribe me a week’s worth of medication for safeguarding, I saw my doctor every two weeks, and a counsellor weekly.
Even now, I have diagnosed PTSD, depression, and anxiety. I am still on antidepressants and have just finished a course of CBT based treatment for my PTSD.
Q3: How, if at all, have your relationships with other people (particular individuals and other people in general) been affected by the bereavement?
My family was always so close, but after my brother died certainly relatives just weren’t there. They would refuse to say his name, and wouldn’t talk about his death.
My partner was and is incredible with supporting me, and the grief definitely made our relationship stronger.
But I struggled to trust new people, and often assumed the worst possible thing was always going to happen.
Q4: Does the surrounding world seem any different to you while grieving? If so, how?
Yes, it feels like a film. I would look down at my hands and not recognise them. I would travel somewhere and not realise I had gone the complete wrong way, unsure of how I got to where I ended up. It feels strange that the rest of the world carries on while your world has been destroyed.
Q5: Has your experience of time changed in any way?
The days seem to blur, and time goes much quicker. But there is also more urgency to things that I do or think about doing.
Q6: Has your body felt any different during grief?
It feels like my body is covered in weights, and just walking to the other side of the room is incredibly hard. It brings a constant feeling of exhaustion, and anxiety.
Q7: Has grief interfered in any way with your ability and motivation to perform various tasks, including paid work?
Yes, I left two jobs because of my grief and resulting PTSD. I also avoid certain routes near the crash site.
I quit voluntary commitments and had extensions on all of my university work because I had no motivation.
I still have a lot of sick days and get signed off for weeks at a time.
Q8: Is your experience of grief changing over time? If so, how?
I don’t think that it changes, I think I have just learnt how to live with it, or to cope with it, a little better.
The pain is still just as sharp.
Q9: Have you ever found yourself looking for the person who died or expecting that person to appear?
Yes, I often see young boys and think it is my brother until I get a little closer.
And I always expect to hear his laugh, that he will suddenly turn up and tell us it was a prank.
Q10: Are there times, places, and occasions that have made you especially aware of the person’s absence?
Yes. Any family occasion, seeing how friends get older and do things he will never do, songs that he loved or that were at his funeral, seeing sports cars, his birthday, Christmas, anniversary of his death, Nike trainers, YouTube
Q11: People who are grieving often report experiencing the presence of the person who died. Have you had any experiences that you would describe in those terms?
Yes, sometimes I still feel him with me. I can’t explain it, I just know he’s there.
Q12: Do you still feel a sense of connection with the person? If so, could you say something about when you feel this and what the experience is like?
Yes, usually I feel most connected to him when running or exercising, or when listening to his favourite music
Q13: Since the person died, is there anything that you have been doing in order to feel close to them?
I have a tattoo with his initials, a ring containing his ashes, a necklace with his initial, a teddy bear with his ashes, cushions made from his clothes. I will also watch the videos he uploaded to YouTube.
Q14: Is there anything that you do in order to avoid being reminded of the person or of their death?
I avoid driving on the road where he was killed. I used to do a lot of things to avoid reminders, before my PTSD treatment
Q15: Has anything in particular helped you to cope with grief? Has anything made you feel better or worse?
I had a blog for a while, and writing about my grief really helped. Meditation also helps.
Q16: How understanding have other people been? Have others said or done anything that you've found especially helpful or unhelpful?
Most people are as understanding as possible. But people still make insensitive comments, e.g. comparing it to their loss of a pet, or assuming I should be over it by now.
Q17: How, if at all, has your experience of bereavement changed you as a person?
I am more sure of myself. I stand up for myself and what I want to happen. I do things, I don’t wait. I am more open about my emotions, and more empathetic to others.
Q18: How, if at all, does grief over the death of a person differ from other forms of loss that you have experienced?
The death of a person changes your entire life, while a different kind of loss only really impacts that specific part of your life
Q19: Are there any aspects of grief that you find particularly puzzling or difficult to put into words?
The fuzziness and lack of concentration
Q20: Are there any important aspects of your experience that we have not addressed?