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    emt_nick's Avatar
    emt_nick Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Aug 9, 2009, 03:23 AM
    My father died in front of me, how do I stop the flashbacks and nightmares?
    I am a 28 year old EMT and 3 months ago my father passed away from a two year battle with throat cancer. To make matters worse he died right in front of me. Since his death I have been experiencing constant flashbacks and nightmares of that day. My father did have a signed DNR and was in Hospice.

    That day I was helping him use the commode and when his was finished I sat him back down and he was barely breathing. I knew right away that he was close to death. Being an EMT and also having medical power of attorney, I knew I could override the DNR and try to save him, but I didn't. That decision has haunted me since. Minutes later I saw his last breath, heard his last heartbeat and seen his pupils fix and dilate. I will never forget putting my stethoscope to his chest and hearing nothing and feeling no pulse. I have seen people die before, but this was different. I keep asking myself "Why didn't I try and save him?"

    My question is how can I get the flashbacks and nightmares to stop? I'm afraid that this will affect my job. I feel like I can't talk to my wife or friends about this because their fathers are still alive and as each day passes I go deeper and deeper into depression. I can only get at most 2 to 3 hours of sleep a night. If you can help in anyway that would be great!
    amicon's Avatar
    amicon Posts: 6,066, Reputation: 1911
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    #2

    Aug 9, 2009, 03:38 AM
    So sorry for you.have you had any grief counselling?cant you try sharing this with your wife? Try not to blame yourself.get professional help.
    KISS's Avatar
    KISS Posts: 12,510, Reputation: 839
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    #3

    Aug 9, 2009, 03:47 AM

    You did the right thing. You knew it was going to happen. You probably said goodbye. All good things.

    There is anxiety there, and it's a candidate for short-term tratment with drugs such as Xanax or Attivan.

    Grief counseling will help with the bereavement process.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,272, Reputation: 7690
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    #4

    Aug 9, 2009, 07:17 AM

    My father passed with me there, the people at the hostpice said he really hung on so he would not pass with mom there.

    My mom passed alone in her kitchen.

    I can only guess it was much better to pass with someone you care for there with you.

    Death is part of life, and what you feel or believe happens to them after they die helps to handle the grief also.

    And of course if they were suffering, we know they are no longer in pain.

    I think of it as their final act of sharing their life with us.

    If you are having seroius issues, I would get counseling.
    Florence333's Avatar
    Florence333 Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #5

    Aug 9, 2009, 09:22 AM
    I am sorry
    My dad died two weeks ago so I know how it feels. You keep expecting them to walk through the door.
    My advice would be to get out and have fun with your friends, I know it sounds impossible to do but that is what is REALLY helping me at the moment.
    Also, write down how you feel in a notebook at the end of each day. This will help you to calm down each day. I do it and It is really helping me.
    I hope that I helpedxxxx
    Torrid13's Avatar
    Torrid13 Posts: 637, Reputation: 149
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    #6

    Aug 9, 2009, 09:27 AM

    Definitely seek counseling to help your cope with your feelings of loss, abandonment, and guilt.

    Like others said, you will probably qualify for some short term anxiety or depression medications.

    Not getting hardly any sleep is a common symptom of depression, and can worsen the depression, so medication may just what you need for a short period. The majority of people I've met that have suffered such a loss go this route.

    Deep depression rarely gets better on its own. Seek help.

    I'm terribly sorry for your loss.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,505, Reputation: 4600
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    #7

    Aug 12, 2009, 08:46 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by Florence333 View Post
    I am sorry
    my dad died two weeks ago so i know how it feels. You keep expecting them to walk through the door.
    My advice would be to get out and have fun with your friends, i know it sounds impossible to do but that is what is REALLY helping me at the moment.
    Also, write down how you feel in a notebook at the end of each day. This will help you to calm down each day. I do it and It is really helping me.
    I hope that I helpedxxxx

    The question is about the father dying in front of his eyes, his "guilt" at not attempting life-saving measures (which would have been against his father's wishes), his inability to talk to anyone about this.

    I am rather chilled by your advice that he go out and have fun with his friends - I was physically unable to leave the house for weeks after my father died but we all grieve in different ways.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,505, Reputation: 4600
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    #8

    Aug 12, 2009, 08:50 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by emt_nick View Post
    I am a 28 year old EMT and 3 months ago my father passed away from a two year battle with throat cancer. To make matters worse he died right in front of me. Since his death I have been experiencing constant flashbacks and nightmares of that day. My father did have a signed DNR and was in Hospice.

    That day I was helping him use the commode and when his was finished I sat him back down and he was barely breathing. I knew right away that he was close to death. Being an EMT and also having medical power of attorney, I knew I could override the DNR and try to save him, but I didn't. That decision has haunted me since. Minutes later I saw his last breath, heard his last heartbeat and seen his pupils fix and dilate. I will never forget putting my stethoscope to his chest and hearing nothing and feeling no pulse. I have seen people die before, but this was different. I keep asking myself "Why didn't I try and save him?"

    My question is how can I get the flashbacks and nightmares to stop? I'm afraid that this will affect my job. I feel like I can't talk to my wife or friends about this because their fathers are still alive and as each day passes I go deeper and deeper into depression. I can only get at most 2 to 3 hours of sleep a night. If you can help in anyway that would be great!

    This post has touched me to the core - my husband also had a DNR order as well as a Living Will. When it became apparent that there was no hope, that there would be no quality of life, I signed to have him removed from life support. I spent that afternoon in his room, alone with him, talking and talking and talking to him. I hope he heard me. He was then taken off all of the machines and died that night with me holding his hand and looking into his face.

    Like you, I am haunted that I did the wrong thing, that I didn't give the situation enough time, that I gave up and, yes, that I killed him. I continue to have terrible nightmares. In my lucid moments I realize none of these things are true and I did what he asked of me.

    You loved your father. He trusted you to let him go when it was time. You did exactly that. The greatest act of love is to let someone go, to go on without that person.

    You most probably need to talk it out to someone but know in your heart that you honored your father until the end of his days by respecting his wishes and proving he could trust you, no matter how difficult the decision would be.

    I hope you find peace. I think you will in time.
    troy70's Avatar
    troy70 Posts: 66, Reputation: 14
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    #9

    Sep 11, 2009, 09:54 PM

    Being an EMT myself your company should have a counselor/debriefing room. Take advantage of it. It really helped me after I watched an abused 3 year old die from internal bleeding on the way to the hospital.
    Best of luck to you
    Cedarln2265's Avatar
    Cedarln2265 Posts: 193, Reputation: 1
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    #10

    Sep 12, 2009, 04:55 PM

    My late husband DNR and living will. He also had aggressive small cell carcinoma. It started in his Lymph glands and as you well know that was the beginning of the end. Science has no cure for all things yet you were trained to "save". That is the hardest part. I too was an EMT and knowing how to read his first CAT scans was totally devasting. But no one can come between a person and God's call. That is what he said and also "If you can't fix it, forget it". We are the ones left behind and know that a piece of our life is gone. The most we can do is do the best we can and pray that the reason we are left behind is for a good reason.
    jmjoseph's Avatar
    jmjoseph Posts: 2,727, Reputation: 1244
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    #11

    Sep 12, 2009, 07:05 PM
    I hope things have gotten better in the month since you posted this.

    My father died in 2000. He and my mother were decorating the Christmas tree, he said he felt faint, sat down on the steps, and died. The hospital was less than a mile away, and the EMT's were there in three minutes. He had had a massive heart attack, and the paramedic that responded told my brother and I that even if he was at the hospital when it happened , that he wouldn't have survived it.

    I am grateful that my mother was there when it happened, and that he was happy and content at the time. She called me at work, and told me something was wrong with him, to be careful, but hurry to the hospital. I covered those 35 miles in about 20 minutes, the whole time praying that GOD would give me a couple of minutes with him so I could tell him that I loved him.

    It didn't work out that way.

    He knew that he was loved, but I wanted to tell him anyway. That and goodbye.


    Find peace in knowing that you were there, and he was not alone. HE directed the DNR order, not you. It was his wish to not prolong the inevitable. You did the right thing by respecting his wish. Know that your father is at peace, and is no longer in pain.

    We always think that it's not fair when we lose a loved one before it's time. But who are we to question GOD's plan?

    My father's death has effected me deeply. He never got to see my children. And I think about him daily. We are supposed to mourn our parent's death. But we are also supposed to celebrate their life by way of all the fond memories we have of them. May GOD bless you at this time of sorrow, and may HE help ease the pain in your heart.

    I stongly suggest counseling considering your line of work. You are at the fine line of life and death on a daily basis, and something so traumatic shouldn't be clouding your judgement.

    They say time heals all wounds, and it does somewhat, but the emotional scarring stays with us for life.

    You should talk to your wife about this. You two should sit down and have a good cry over this issue, and get it out in the open.
    daddysgurl's Avatar
    daddysgurl Posts: 1, Reputation: 2
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    #12

    Dec 1, 2009, 12:00 PM
    Wow. I googled this and it's like I am reading my own story (aside from the EMT part). I lost my Dad a week ago to throat cancer. I was on my way to his house when he collapsed and got a faint pulse when I got there. He also signed a DNR the evening before. Full knowing that he had signed one, I still attempted to do chest compressions after I called 911. I freaked. I did 3, and heard the crack on the 3rd. Just looking at him, so frail and thin, wanting to bring him back but had the DNR in my car, I had to stop. I doubt I could have revived him, but I wasn't sure he really knew what he signed. He had always told me that I would know when it was time to let him go. The guilt is horrible. The feeling that I hurt him doing CPR, could have been there 10 minutes earlier, etc. I have no advice, but if you ever need someone to talk to I would love to listen. Hopefully this finds you doing better.
    mane2006's Avatar
    mane2006 Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #13

    Dec 8, 2009, 04:43 PM

    I really am so sorry to hear of your loss.I loss my dad earlier this year two weeks before I was due to give birth and I know it's an extremely difficult time.
    Your doctor will be able to help you with your flashbacks and very unsettled nights. If you prefer not to talk to your doctor, I found that the cruise bereavement helpline really helpful as was the samaritans.
    I hope this was some help to you
    Mane
    rosemcs's Avatar
    rosemcs Posts: 325, Reputation: 47
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    #14

    Dec 30, 2009, 11:05 PM

    It doesn't look like nick will come back to his post, but for those that have been traumatized by death, there is a method called EMDR that has been proven to work on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    EMDR Institute, Inc.

    There are therapists located around the country. Basically, it helps remove the emotion from the memory and be able to function better. It helped me tremendously in a very short amount of time when I almost lost my baby numerous times, recently because of heart problems. I did not lose her, but have to keep taking her to the hospital and face procedures in the future... so I am staring death in the face quite a bit. Hopefully, maybe just one of you can benefit as I did to be able to let go of stressors.
    Dako1706's Avatar
    Dako1706 Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #15

    Feb 8, 2011, 12:48 AM
    My name is Dakota, I'm currently 19 my dad died when I was 14. 1 week exactly before school started my first year in high school. 1 week before his aniversery (sorry I know it's spelled wrong)and 3 days before his 51st birthday. He trip and cut his wrist open on the ac and there was loose wires. He was electrified from the inside by 200 volts. I'll never forget his face when it happened. I remember the day exactly. Id like to say it gets easier but the truth is barely. It'll stop but the pain that you are feeling right now will always be there. No amount of counseling or talking can change that. And I'm sorry. I'm trained in cpr pro and basic first aid 6 times and certified. I panicked. I did nothing except call 911 my mom and sister and scream help. I was useless under stress. I know how you feel. But there will be better days. But don't forget the pain it's a reminder that we know they meant something special to us. That pain is a curse and a gift from them. Keep your father with you.
    shaymaaeldorry's Avatar
    shaymaaeldorry Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #16

    Feb 28, 2011, 07:36 PM
    I feel you my father passed away 8 months ago he passed away in front of my eyes he was on my hand and he is my soulmate and because of cancer all what I can say try to be very strong as much as you can and ask GOD to forgive him when ever you remember him and he feel everything about you trust me I'm asking GOD to be with you and me all the time and to support us... take great care of yourself
    nadiahowie's Avatar
    nadiahowie Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #17

    Oct 19, 2011, 08:26 PM
    I am 17 ! And my dad died on 7th October of a major heart attack ! :'(
    He had a minor one in the morning, doctor came, he said he would be fine ! Though I had a chance of taking him to the hospital, I didn't ! I listened to the doctor ! In the evening 6 he had a major heart attack and he died!. people blame me for what I did. it feels terrible ! He died in my arms, the memories are not going to go away so easily ! It tough, to be honest ! Time is the best medicine I guess ! The guilt factor will remain ! He was just 49 years ! :(
    xiochoice's Avatar
    xiochoice Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
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    #18

    Jan 31, 2012, 02:23 PM
    Just remember how lucky for having to experience the love and respect with you father. Replace that day with the happy memories that you had with you father. Time will heal the pain that you are feeling!

    Good Luck,
    Mara
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    judyabote Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
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    #19

    May 29, 2012, 11:40 AM
    My dad was at hospital... and I used to go and see him after school for as long as they'd let me since he was in the ICU, he was really tired
    Each day I went to sleep I prayed he'd still be there so that I go and see him even though he wasn't that conscious
    Tuesday I went out of his room, and I felt that something was close to happen..
    Wednesday, my family didn't allow me to go as he was over tired
    I kept fighting with them to let me see him, but it was pointless
    At 5:15 Thursday morning, I woke up suddenly, gasping for air, and found all the house lights on, I felt a lump rising in my throat, and was about to cry since I knew something was wrong, I mean why would everyone be awake at 5 am?
    I asked 2 of my brothers, and they ran away from me, then mum came and sat next to me
    And boom..
    The news came crashing over me
    He passed away at 5 am
    I didn't have the chance to him during his last day
    I know he's relieved now, no pain, no worries
    But I miss him like hell...
    I really miss him..
    He was a doctor, and recently I got sick a lot, this is the 3rd week for his death if am not wrong, so I'm finding it really hard, he'd nt there to check on my sickness, give me meds or anything
    He won't be there for my school nor university graduation
    He won't be there for my wedding,
    For my whole life!
    Gosh... I miss him so much..
    And what I hate the most is that I can't cry in front of people (its a good thing)
    Since I'm the younger in my family and I was kind of the closest to him..
    I hate the idea that they pitty me..
    I know he wouldn't want me to be weak, and I'm doing my best, but its so hard..
    I really do miss him..
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,505, Reputation: 4600
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    #20

    May 29, 2012, 01:17 PM
    Your post is heartbreaking. I can feel your pain.

    I think your father would want you to be strong in your grief - and that's not the opposite of weak. You need to do whatever you need to do to feel better and begin to heal.

    He sounds like a wonderful father.

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