wings and things

How not to be haunted

on February 5, 2014

I don’t know how not to be haunted by the car accident last October. That Ming was at fault is a no-brainer, but that five beautiful children were injured is only slightly alleviated by the relief that they are all okay now, physically.

Psychologically, I don’t know. One niece emailed me to say she was shooting basketball hoops better than ever before and she quoted ‘you have to fall before you fly’. Her younger brother’s broken leg has healed and he can play football again and his twin sister’s wise smile shows me she is okay too. My other niece, who was in a spinal brace for three months, is now back to school, has a new kitten, and is enjoying life again. Her best friend (also in the accident) has fully recovered from a complicated arm fracture.

But we, the parents, are all still haunted by the shadow of death that loomed that night; the phone-call from Ming, the mutual panic, the helicopter taking my younger brother with his son to the city, the screaming cries of my sister-in-law and my shocked mother on the front veranda as I threw myself into the car and drove madly around the district, unable to focus on where the accident had happened even though it wasn’t far from home.

I remember stopping the car finally and ringing my friend who immediately went to the scene of the accident. And I also remember – vividly – hoping that if anyone were to die, it would be Ming, not the other kids. Obviously I would never tell Ming this but it’s true and I still maintain that, but am unsure of course.

How the hell do people cope when someone is killed, or permanently injured, in this kind of stupid accident? And how, as a family, do we cope with the aftermath of what has happened to us? I don’t know.

I have made so many mistakes in my communication with some loved ones over this that I feel like giving up and just succumbing to absolute despair. When I stopped the car that night, unable to find the accident site, I wanted so much to just die myself – such a coward I guess. I was terrified!

Ming’s phone-call that night: “Mum, I’ve had an accident; everyone is alive.” His sobbing voice will haunt me forever. Okay, so I probably shouldn’t be dwelling on this but how can I not?

So I watch the new ducklings until the haunting feelings go away.

70 responses to “How not to be haunted

  1. Oh Julie…..just reading this haunts me. I know I don’t have any words to help. But if sitting here and thinking about you half way around the world helps….then I hope you know it’s what I’m doing.

  2. cobbies69 says:

    I cannot ever imagine how people can deal with a situation such as this or similar, I could only guess and this would probably be wrong. But I would say, it was an accident, not intentional. But my thoughts are with you on this. 😉

  3. cobbies69 says:

    PS: thank you for your kind words on my post..

  4. So hard ‘not’ to dwell… when one takes things very deeply…. but in time we can hope for the visions and thoughts to diminish….. Diane

  5. As the old saying goes, this too shall pass. The passage of time will help – as well as watching those beautiful little babies. Hugs!

  6. Judy says:

    What you describe is post traumatic stress – your mind is trying to process it now and it does feel haunting. I also suffer from flashbacks. I love the ending to this story. Peaceful images, music and better thoughts help to ease the pain. It’s best not to suppress it – just let it go up and out into the wind. I guarantee that it will be less and less. My ugly memories and flashbacks still happen with triggers – but they don’t rule or ruin my life anymore. I really understand, Julie, I do. Love those ducklings. New life filled with hope – hope is good.

  7. janechese says:

    I am not a parent but an old friend of mine recently lost her adult daughter.Such a senseless tragic loss, and one that I imagine you never get over.Perhaps near-losses are something you never get over either but you do move on-in time. Focusing on the ducks and the pea fowl is a blessing that brings you back to the moment. I am not callously saying ‘Get over it” actually you are giving me a gift in sharing the process that you are going through, that is something that not too many people are able to express so please keep sharing and keep track of your writings so you can look back on this in the future.Nothing wrong with the thoughts and feelings, it is what it is.Hugs and blessings.Jane

  8. Time heals everything but until then know that you have friends who support and care so much about you and your family. One day at a time. I can feel your emotions through the page and I wish that there was something that I could transmit through the ether that would ease your sorrow and angst. As you said there has been so much healing and there will be more to come, it will take time. Big Hugs and kisses.

  9. FlaHam says:

    Julie, Time is the great healer. In time you will heal as will Ming. There doesn’t seem like there is an effective speed up button. Hang in there and know you have two tons of folks on your corner pulling for you. And always any of us will there for you. Take care, Bill

  10. I just want to hug you until the fear and haunting subsides …. I’ve taken to Xanax and therapy. I think watching the ducks is better …. love to you.

  11. elizabeth says:

    Healing can be very painful and slow, but that day will come when all this pain will be a distant memory. Till then hold on to the Love that never fails. He will see you all through. (((hugs)))

  12. ksbeth says:

    this gave me chills all over again, and yes, the ducklings are proof that the beautiful and simple things in life go on. as we all must )

  13. It is a relief knowing that they are all OK now.
    The haunted part comes from realizing it could have easily gone the other way. It’s hard not to be haunted…..

  14. There’s no easy answer for these hard questions and situations. You just carry on, one step in front of the other, watching chickens and watching what happens to your insides. It all changes, everything, some days death looms closer and scares the shit out of us, brings horrors, and on others new life, new happenings, change all that. No control to stop any of it. Sending you hugs and admiration that you’re so out there with your experiences. Makes it easier for me to do the same. Thanks, Jules.

  15. tootlepedal says:

    I’m glad the ducks can give you a little peace if only for a moment or two.

  16. Rhonda says:

    Oh how I wish I could be your ghost hunter jules…you (all) have nothing to be haunted about, but I so completely understand why you are. As parents, there is NOTHING that will replace the images of what we feared most; there is NOTHING that will take away the thoughts we had immediately upon hearing the news; there is NOTHING anyone can say or do to change what has happened before or since…all we can do is thank GOD for the outcome where all survived and all have physically healed.
    The rest, for better or worse, is now part of the fabric of your lives. Soon though, my friend, it WILL be just a memory and not an open wound. Pray now for the mercy we all hope Ming receives from the judicial system…that’s all that can be done right now. And if the worst happens love, we are here…never forget and never think distance makes a God Damned bit of difference…we are here and always will be….xoxo

  17. Julie Stevenson says:

    I love your ducklings and look how fluffy and sweet they look swimming in a muddy pond, they look so happy. Just like you should be. Life may be a muddy pool for you at the moment, but make like the ducks and live life full on with your gorgeous son and the husband who brings both pain and joy. Sent with love Julie x

  18. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    I can’t imagine what you went through as a Mother, as I am single.

    You and the other parents are going through what hundreds of thousands of parents go through, so you are not alone. i’m sure they share your horror, fear, shock and ‘what if’ (the worst had happened).

    You have to keep telling yourself that they all lived and are moving on with their lives. You have to try to put the pictures and flash-backs away in the back of your mind and move on too. And while it’s not over for Ming (in particular), I’m sure he would want you to move on and not worry so much.

    Your worries will only make Ming fearful that you will not be able to cope when his final court verdict is reached. So for his sake, be strong and try to gather some peace and calm (in the midst of your fears).


    • jmgoyder says:

      Mostly I am okay – it has certainly made me identify with the thousands of parents who have suffered this and worse. Trying very hard not to show Ming when the flashbacks happen. We are all getting there I guess – thanks Vicki.

  19. joanne lane says:

    I am the mother of 3 of the kids in this accident and we are all recovered but i too think of that night and feel the chill of how lucky we all were not to be mourning one of these great kids…..We are all mended and now are focused on Ming..He means so much to each of my beautiful children and everyday talk of how they just want to tell the judge they are fine now and to leave Ming alone.It makes me smile every time..The silver lining is how close this has made them to You all.I love you Juli and am so proud of how you have gotten through this horrible

  20. I understand why you might be haunted but Julie, forgive yourself, forgive Ming. What is done, is done. And if it had to happen, it’s good that all of them are well. Be grateful for that. HUGS!!!

  21. You are experiencing a normal reaction to an abnormal traumatic circumstance. I have read that recovery from trauma requires feeling the emotions of the event completely and working through those emotions, even the painful ones, especially the painful ones. However, that is difficult because we tend to do the opposite and try and push the painful feelings away. Here are a few things that I have found helped me through trauma:
    (1) Recognizing that what I was feeling was normal. I am normal. It is the situation that was not normal. Remember that. What you are feeling is normal.
    (2) Talking about it with people who I can trust and them just listening to me. Also allowing myself to feel the feelings and talk about hose feelings with those trusted people.
    (3) Some counselling sessions with a therapist experienced in grief and trauma counselling.
    (4) Focussing on my ‘nest’ by making sure my home and loved ones are safe and that my home is a peaceful sanctuary where I can be me. Me the strong one; and me the weak one.
    (5) Try and resume normal activities and get into a routine (still trying).
    (6) Looking after myself (I forget this one ALL the time).
    (7) Try and find a deeper meaning to the trauma. Can I help other people in some way?
    (8) Being creative in talking about my trauma by writing. Supposedly finding a creative outlet to express your grief and trauma helps in its recovery.
    The last one is probably the best one I have found and that is where blogging is so great. It puts a bit of distance between the reality of my feelings (to people I do not really know) and yet it still helps me to get them out, to express them.
    In summary, the road to trauma recovery can be to talk about it. So therefore, if at any time you need to get it out, just do it. Talk, talk, talk. Write, write, write.

    And remember, I will always be here, and I will listen.
    Hugs to you Julie. You have much courage and an inspiration to us all. 🙂

    • jmgoyder says:

      What a wonderful list – thanks so much for your generosity here Elizabeth. I was feeling a bit awkward at having blogged about it again and nearly removed the post but glad I didn’t now! You are a gem.

  22. It will haunt you for many years to come, if not for the rest of your life, slowly over time the haunting should ease all you can do is take it one day at a time

  23. Julie, my heart goes out to you as a mother. I cannot begin to imagine the horror of that night and what you’ve endured since the accident. I’m so happy that the children involved have all recovered well. I’m so sorry this is haunting you, but time will heal the mental wounds too. *hugs*

  24. Trisha says:

    It takes awhile to feel sane again after something like this. About 9 years ago, the go-kart my kids were driving caught on fire. My mom and I ran right out to the thing, unbuckled them and got them to safety before the go-kart exploded. The kids were perfectly fine but I think my mom and I both suffered from PTSD for awhile. We kept replaying the event over and over in our minds and kept imagining what could have happened. It took a few months but we finally stopped thinking about it all the time. Someone who has been through PTSD treatment might have some better suggestions than just giving it time though.

  25. bulldog says:

    What can one say to help you handle this traumatic incident?
    Well I would have said talking about it, which you are doing on the blog, but also to continue doing so. It was an accident that happened and nothing and nobody can reverse that fact.
    There were injuries that by the Grace of God did not result in any deaths and for that you are thankful. But how to get over it yourself? I don’t think you can, but I sense a feeling that you are blaming yourself for this and that is wrong, it must be damn difficult to handle this alone and I’m sure if Ant had of been at home and fine he would have made it so much more easier for you to get a grasp of. He isn’t so I think this will continue to haunt you till court cases are over and done. I think the unknowns of what is to happen to Ming is probably causing as much trauma as the accident and when this is brought to a finality it might ease your pain and the haunting feelings will be gone.
    But Sterkte Julie, continue to write about it we are all here to help you even though a huge sea separates us we feel for you and pray for you…

  26. I think you should write about it whenever and how ever often you like/need Julie. As you’ve found here there’ll be some helpful gems among the comments from our worldwide friends.

    Those flashbacks are a real kick in the guts aren’t they 😦 I wonder if talking to that nice chaplain you mentioned recently would be a good idea now and then? I had a great session with my boss today – he’s a wonderful counsellor – his Buddhist view point may seem simplistic but basically ‘everything will pass, good times and bad’ and ‘everything is happening exactly as it is meant to’

  27. viveka says:

    Julie, so much has been said here by your friends … that says what I would love to say to you – in all honesty I think you should talk to somebody too .. outside the family … I promise it helps. I have always been skeptical against psychologists, but it helps .. because I had a couple of sessions after my cancer treatment, not many .. and it helped to talk with somebody that isn’t connected as such to the problem. You shouldn’t be hunted … everything went okay in the end – and I think you need a good, cry … girlfriend.

  28. Terry says:

    I have always heard there is a reason for everything that happens in our lives. I don’t doubt that there is one for this accident either, but I don’t know the reason why. Maybe a closer family, maybe Ming will be stronger from this or a better something. I don’t know. What I want you to concentrate on is everyone is healed, back to normal or even better. It could have been so much worse, so look for that brightness in the cracks and cling to it my friend. Love and hugs

  29. Lynda says:

    Julie, it could have all ended so differently; it didn’t. REJOICE!

  30. tolego says:

    Julie, I am posting a comment here as I can’t find the last post. I just wanted to say … you are not to blame for the accident. That is something which would be good to process until you can feel the truth of it. (feeling traumatised by what happened won’t go away in a hurry but you won’t need to carry guilt about it) When people make judgements on you and when they reflect your own sense of guilt, it can be like being hit with a wrecking ball. If you can feel the core truth that you were not to blame in any way for what happened on that terrible night you would be able to receive those kinds of attacks which you described without being destroyed by them. Upset maybe but no longer destroyed. You are an incredible open hearted gentle soul living in incredibly difficult circumstances and you continuously blow us all away with your strength your love and your spirit.

  31. mrs fringe says:

    ((((((((Julie)))))))) I don’t have any magic answers. Time, and moving forward with your days, and of course, family, peachicks, and ducklings. ❤

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