We have some Christian brethren who would deny the existence of post traumatic stress disorder. I have seen brochures that have workshops for, “Those who have been told they have PTSD.”
I could not possibly be so suggestible that someone could convince me that I have post traumatic stress disorder. No one suggested to me that I would tense up when an oncoming car changed lanes in front of me without using the turn signal. No one ever told me that I would feel nauseous when I hear sirens in the distance. No one told me to see if I could conjure up the accident by visualizing it over and over again and relive those horrible moments of Lindsay’s death. No one told me that my startle reflex would react and overreact to sudden noises or sounds. Steve, the boys and I have all had nightmares and intrusive thoughts of the accident. We have also realized that we have all avoided circumstances that involve being a passenger in a car with a group of people where we are not in control and the “trapped” feeling this brings. We have had some real lapses in the details of the accident as the overwhelming trauma of witnessing her death.
Our son, Steve Jr. had to show I.D. to make it to the scene of the accident.
Our son, Steve, Jr. had to drive himself to the accident afterward and experienced the anguish and distress of making his way through the police cars and ambulances. At every juncture they asked for his ID so he could even get to where the rest of us stood amid the crime tape, road barricades and ambulances. He was totally devastated by what he saw, heard and felt as he took each step toward the scene of the accident!
We felt isolated and detached from others.
We also experienced a feeling of isolation and detachment from others. I thought this was just because others with whom I mingled had not experienced this type of loss. This too, is actually a symptom of PTSD. I also felt a sense of a shortened life; actually, I hoped for a shortened life, not knowing how one could possibly live more than a year or two with this level of pain and grief. The males in the family—all of them, had such anger toward anything and anybody that we had outbursts of punching and yelling. I remember one time, praying, “Dear Lord, we have lost Lindsay and now we are losing everybody else!” We had all three of our sons living with us, plus Bill. Steve, Sr. said of himself, “I wasn’t mad at God, but I was mad at everybody else.”
I would retreat into my own grief
I, personally, wasn’t mad. I felt very much alone and I remember I could sit in groups sometimes and just close my eyes. I’m not sure why I did that—maybe just to remove myself from the situation and retreat into my own grief. I was cooking for five men; Bill is a vegetarian, so I kept busy cooking two separate meals and treating him as I knew Lindsay would want. Bill’s parents would also drop by unannounced and visit. The kids’ friends frequented our house and I was never at a loss for company. I did learn to excuse myself and go into my own room. I read sermons and prayed desperate prayers of help, sitting alone on my bed. The empty hollow and raw feelings of grief were physically painful and completely inescapable.
I realized, "there was no rest for grief."
Once while rollerblading with two friends, I realized that as one can rest after a vigorous hour of roller blading, there was no rest for grief. No matter how much I longed to catch my breath, sit, recover, there seemed no true resting place; grief just drained and drained and offered no place to recuperate. How could I find the rest I needed? The answer for that was, "no where!" Of course, I went to the Lord, but honestly—that rest evaded me there too. As C.S. Lewis said, “Go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain and what do you find? Doors slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.” (Lewis C.S. A Grief Observed,) 1961. Bantam Books /Seabury Press ) p.4 .C.S. Lewis also refers to “the boys” who cannot abide hearing his wife’s name mentioned. I felt this, too.
When I mentioned Lindsay’s name in front of our sons, I felt as if I had said something very wrong; like I had cursed or slipped and said something very embarrassing or shameful. It was just her name; I missed saying her name. There was no more, “Lindsay called today and said…” “Lindsay told me…” “Lindsay’s on the phone, Lindsay here, Lindsay, Lindsay, Lindsay.” Nothing; Lindsay was gone and saying her name was just painfully nonessential and deeply sad.
If you want to know more about our book which speaks of our horror that Robyn and I went through because of mental illness, please go to: