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My son died in a fire....


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He was 17, he had gone to spend the night at a friend's house, they had plans to get up early and go snowboarding, It was December 11, 2005. I received a phone call early the next morning that the house had burned down, and the homeowner, and his son, escaped, but my son and 2 of his best friends did not.

My health and my life are getting increasingly worse as time goes on. I am 44 years old, and I feel like I am 90. I want my life on this earth to just be done, already. I know I have beautiful daughters to go on for. I try so hard everyday, but not only is my heart aching, but I have severe body pain, all over, my doctors don't even know what to do anymore.

I can't sleep at night, I have constant visions of him burning up in that fire....I wish they would stop. Any time I see a movie or something on TV about fire or something burning, I go into serious terror-fits. I have even been awakened by my daughters who told me I was screaming in my sleep. I don't want their lives to be foreveor tortured by my grief and pain. Thay had a hard enough time getting through the last 2 years with their own grief and pain, but they are doing much better, and I am much worse. I can't explain it, but I just feel like I am not going to live much longer...maybe it is wishful thinking, or maybe I just feel so sick and tired, literally, that I feel like I am shutting down. Anti-depressants have actually made things worse, for some reason. I don't want to go on like this, but I don't know what to do.

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that's an awful story to relate. I'm very very sorry for your loss.

A grief that goes on as long as yours has, with such intensity is known as a problematic grief, or pathological grief. Something is interfering with the successful resolution of the grieving process. It's impossible to know all of what might be doing that with the little information you've conveyed here, but given the terror fits you describe, and your daughter's report that you are having nightmares about the fire, it is worth pursuing the idea that you may have been traumatized by the horrific event of your son's death, and actually be struggling with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at present. Medication treatments for PTSD can be helpful, but the primary treatment is thought to be psychotherapy, of which there are several varieties that seem to be helpful. One is a variety of behavior therapy called exposure therapy which works on the principle that you are not able to process the emotions surrounding this grief becuase the fire was so horriffic that you are avoiding them - they are too hot to handle. So the exposure therapy works with you to find ways to expose you to these traumatic memories and fears in such a way that you can tolerate, and working with them in this fashion makes them lose some of their compulsive power. The other therapy which has shown promise is called EMDR, and this therapy works like exposure therapy, but it uses a different method to break the memories' hold over you. This podcast has information on EMDR, and I suggest that you listen to it.

I hope this information is helpful to you and makes sense.


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  • 1 month later...

Im sorry to hear about the loss of your son. However I am certain that he would not want you to live in pain or experience this suffering because of his untimely death.

I think that it maybe time that you got a second opinion as you still seem to be in shock from his death. I suggest that you see another GP regarding your heart ache, severe body pain, lack of sleep, nightmares and ineffective Anti-depressants. Perhaps you should also disassociate yourself from the news media during this time and seek some grief counselling.

Best of luck.

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I would like to second Merits' comment and Mark's comment. You may be dealing with a PTSD reaction, or a Complicated Grief Reaction (basically grief that does not go away after an extended period of time that causes physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that impair functioning). Either condition can be treated by a therapist with expertise in these issues.

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