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Fixating on something that isn't healthy - SENSITIVE!!

(19 Posts)
LosingTheWillToSkate Mon 03-Nov-14 21:14:38

My brother died earlier this year in quite horrible circumstances. He lived in a very hot country, and it was 5 days before he was found. Because of the circumstances (he was a sole parent to my 9yr old nephew who was in the house with him the whole time) it was heavily reported, and very graphically.

I found that quite hard to deal with at the time, along with the various internet forums that were full of people speculating over my brother's death, one even descending into a row on racism. However, I was very busy dealing with embassy, consulate, fending off media and generally looking after everything for my parents and siblings - arranging flights, funerals etc etc. so I didn't give it too much headspace, other than fending them off and worrying whether it would still be on the news when we got there (they were unaware of any reporting).

Anyway, I've cut out a lot of details because they aren't relevant to what I'm posting about and it would be far too long for anyone to read. I got his post mortem report a month ago, and its been since then really that I've started trying to come to terms with everything. I haven't had support from my family, but it isn't in a malicious way, I think I've always been seen as the one who deals with everything and sorts everything and they think I'm stronger than I perhaps am, I don't know. I've had great support from DH though. He has cystic fibrosis, and his medical team kind of encompass all areas - consultants, physios, dieticians, nurses, psychologists, social workers etc. Because of the extreme stress we've been under over the past 6 months (I've also had a cancer scare and worries over my health related to my brother), they have gone out of their way to support the pair of us. This resulted in his social worker coming to see us last week, and she has been a marvellous help, and has really allowed me to start putting things into perspective and start to grieve.

However, I keep fixating on the pictures of my brother that were published. Its kind of weird, but the authorities where he lived photograph everything at the scene, including passports, and send them with the police report to all media outlets. The photos are pixelated before being printed, but you can very clearly make out his outline, fluids etc.

I want to stop looking, but can't make myself. I've even toyed with contacting one of these papers and requesting the unpixelated copies, but I know deep down that it won't help me in any way, and thankfully have stopped myself. I've spent hours googling decomposition and putrefaction, and I don't know why! I'm trying to focus on putting all of my memories down on paper and making scrapbooks of my brother's things (cards, photos, achievements etc) for my nephew when he's older. He doesn't really have an emotional capacity to deal with things like this, and is very matter of fact, but he might appreciate it one day?

I don't really know why I've posted, I guess to try and drum some sense into myself!

EverythingCounts Mon 03-Nov-14 21:25:59

That sounds horrendous and very stressful for you. Are you seeing a counsellor? I know you said you have support but it would hopefully help to have time to talk about how this has affected you, not your nephew - you.

Can you make a pact with yourself to wean yourself off looking at the photos? A bit like stopping smoking where you do it less often, so if you've been looking every day, make it once a day only, then once every other day etc.

Dowser Mon 03-Nov-14 21:29:34

I'm glad you did.

It's a hell of a burden you have carried and I'm so sorry that you have had to do this.

Not only am I sorry that you lost your brother I cannot even imagine how you feel regarding the circumstances of his death.

It was very, very tragic and I wish you could have spared the details. The media are just guttersnipe when it comes to these type of personal tragedies.

In my other life I was a counsellor for Cruse and I cannot recommend them enough. I think you need to go along and talk it all out with a trained professional who will not recoil from some of the Intimate details.

Please, please ask for some professional help just so you can let out the awful situation you have had to deal with.

Greyhound Mon 03-Nov-14 21:32:03

Oh dear lord, my heart goes out to you.

My sister died ten years ago - her death was also traumatic. Basically, she stopped essential medical treatment and died - it was a suicidal death and just awful.

Unlike you, I did not have to contend with Internet forums or the media - that must have been hideous.

I think it is part of grieving to dwell on the horror of a tragic death. For me, I spent a very long time mulling over the ghastly details - the last day, hours, moments of her life; the way my poor dad had to break the news and so on. Her appearance changed throughout her last months and this was also distressing.

I would recommend counselling - you have had a lot of "admin" to contend with amidst the shock and confusion of your brother's death.

To feel very disturbed at the thought of your precious sibling decomposing whilst his child was alone with him is understandable.

It sometimes surprises me how much I dwell on the sad fact that my sister is buried and, no doubt, is in a skeletal state. When I was little, my grandpa died and I remember asking lots of questions about how his dead body would decompose etc. I was discouraged from talking about it, which only increased my worry.

For a year after dsis's death, I had nightmares.

Your feelings are normal, but you are carrying a heavy burden of grief and shock - I really do recommend therapy as it really helped me.

ThisIsSylviaDaisyPouncer Mon 03-Nov-14 21:42:53

OP I really don't know what to say other than I am so sorry for your loss, I hope your family are bearing up and I agree with other posters... Please do see a counsellor. I think the thoughts you describe are 100% understandable but need to be processed and dealt with; I think a professional will be able to help you through it. Look after yourself and keep posting here if it gives you comfort flowers

LosingTheWillToSkate Mon 03-Nov-14 23:01:16

Thank you.

I've never dealt with anything like this before so no idea what's normal and what's not!

I'm having another session with the social worker in a few weeks. She's very experienced in dealing with bereavement as she heads up the psychosocial team at the cf unit and obviously people die from cf

Levismum Mon 03-Nov-14 23:21:14

You poor love. You've been through so much.
I understand to an extent what your experiencing. I have lost 3 close family members in very unusual circumstances. I became obsessed with the death process. One of these deaths, involved the cause of death never being determined as the body was not discovered for over 6 weeks...

Use that great support around you. Your family are consumed by grief so use any means to find peace and some form of acceptance of the situation.

Take care. X

ballsballsballs Mon 03-Nov-14 23:54:55

I'm sorry for your loss OP flowers and big, un-Mumsnetty hugs.

I lost a friend to suicide some years ago. For a long time after her death I was a bit obsessed with the details of exactly how she died.

I second (third?) the recommendation for counselling through Cruse. The counsellor I had was amazing and really helped me to deal with my feelings.

DoTheStrand Tue 04-Nov-14 00:35:16

I lost my dad four years ago - he was in his 80s so although it was sad it wasn't a tragedy, but I found myself fixating on what happened to his body underground. I even asked my brother (a doctor) what state he'd be in! It sounds very odd now i've written it down but looking at the rest of this thread it's more common than we think.
I didn't have to deal with the practical side of Dad's death much, unlike you, but I am also seen as one of the family copers and looking back I did just carry on as normal. I only started to grieve after two years. So the dwelling is probably just a coping mechanism. Counselling sounds like a great idea, I really hope it all works our for you and you get some peace of mind soon.

DorisIsALittleBitPartial Tue 04-Nov-14 00:47:27

What a sad situation you are in OP. You must look after yourself first and foremost.
Whatever the circumstances, dwelling over the state/situation/time of death is not unusual, and are a way of making sense of the world that now exists. However you are in a very unusual situation. There is no right or wrong way to cope with grief, but most people don't have the added weight of media intrusion to cope with.
Can you see your GP in the meantime before you see the social worker? A few weeks is a long time to wait when you clearly need support now. They can refer you for bereavement counselling and help you talk through how you are feeling now.
My thoughts are with you, take care of you thanks

redviolin Tue 04-Nov-14 00:53:19

OP it sounds like you are suffering from complex trauma. That requires some thorough addressing with a therapist.

And I don't think it's unusual at all for humans to try and deal with tragedies in the way that you are doing: Wanting to know every detail, to somehow get control of it in your head so you can find a way of coping with it.

In some ways perhaps the unpixellated versions of the pictures would help, because I can bet that your imagination, which knows your hopes and fears so well, has filled in gaps that are not there. Though of course, I think it'd be a good idea to get a professional opinion on whether this is right for you at the moment.

flowers for you

Deathraystare Tue 04-Nov-14 07:34:13

I am so sorry for your loss. Your brother's death became a media spectacle. Horrible. I do think youneed some sort of grief counselling. I remember when I used to type postmortems up (and sometimes see photographs), one woman wanted to see her son (he had died in a fire). She kept ringing up. Eventually we managed to persuade her that it would not be a good thing and best to remember him as he was. You have not had that option.

I guess it is normal to 'obsess' but you will need some kind of counselling to 'move on'. Had the social worker not suggested something?

LosingTheWillToSkate Tue 04-Nov-14 13:15:19

The social worker is happy to work with me herself. I don't want to undersell her in any way here, she's very skilled and experienced in dealing with bereavement and has counselled many families through their grief.

She's said I need to be able to process all of my feelings and memories and be able to put them in this era of my life rather than have them keep spilling over. How my family left me to deal with everything is a big part of it I think.

Before our next appointment she's asked me to start compiling a memory book or box and start writing down my thoughts and feelings on the whole situation so that I can get them straight in my head

deste Tue 04-Nov-14 13:39:12

What has happened to you is very sad. It's not great but I think this happens in many countries. My DD met a friend abroad that she hadn't seen for four years. He had only arrived that night and had gone out and drunk too much. She told him to go home and they would meet next day. Unfortunately he fell over his balcony and was killed. The media came and took photos of all his horrendous injuries and printed them in the local paper. Many years later my DD was suffering from depression which they put down to this young lads death and seeing the injuries. I think everyone deals with be bereavement in different ways. I hope your nephew is ok.

LosingTheWillToSkate Thu 06-Nov-14 22:05:54

I've decided I'm going to speak to my liaison person at the consulate to ask about the photographs. I think seeing them unpixellated will stop me obsessing about what they might show. I think I have it from studying them now, but the uncertainty is killing me.

I doubt they'll help me with it, so I've also emailed a journalist that I spoke to at the time too.

Feel very weird, but sure that this is the right thing for me.

DinnaeKnowShitFromClay Thu 06-Nov-14 22:33:57

My Mum committed suicide as she was in unbearable pain from cancer. It was very dramatically and inaccurately reported in the local rag but with no pictures and I found that very hard indeed so I cannot imagine how hard you are finding this. flowers for you OP. My heart goes out to you.

TonyThePony Fri 07-Nov-14 09:11:00

Could you maybe get the pictures emailed to your husband or a close friend so that they can prepare you or advise you whether it might be too traumatic?

I'm just worried that it might be harder to see than you expect and once you've seen them, you won't be able to forget them.

I'm so sorry for what you're going through and I hope you find peace (cant think of a better word, sorry) soon.

ihatebats Fri 07-Nov-14 10:25:03

Once you see them you cannot un see them and I don't think that is the issue because you do essentially know exactly what those pixellated photos show.

You need to find a therapy (CBT maybe) that will re focus you and direct you away from unhelpful and obsessive thoughts.

I am very sorry for you and your families loss.

JoylessFucker Fri 07-Nov-14 11:56:47

OP, you have clearly developed a good and trusting relationship with your DH's social worker and I can understand your desire not to change to another therapist. But the circumstances of this are unusual to say the least. If her expertise is solely in grief counselling, there may be issues here for which she doesn't have the appropriate training and could find herself out of her depth. As a trainee counsellor, I find myself as concerned for her as I am for you (and that's a high level of concern).

In particular, I am wondering if your strong need, drive even, to see these pictures are because (subconsciously possibly) you feel they will help you to move from coping mode and shock you into emotional outpouring. However, there are other ways to achieve this without the additional trauma having access to these pictures could bring.

I hope whatever decision you make, you find the support you need and find peace. Take good care OP flowers

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