What to Do When You Can't Get a Painful Image out of your Mind
Posted on 3rd June 2020 at 13:17
Over the past few months, we have all witnessed pictures in the news and on tv documentaries of people in their hospital beds on ventilators, intubated, with some of them about to lose their lives. It’s an image that will probably never leave when we think back on this pandemic in the future.
If your relative or friend died from COVID-19, our hearts go out to you for what you have been through. One of the most painful of experiences when you’re grieving is having a disturbing image of your loved one’s final hours, days, or weeks etched on your mind that you keep flashing back to. You may have seen your relative in hospital or had a video call with them from their hospital bed. Your last image may have been seeing them in the back of an ambulance with an oxygen mask on. Your mind may have made up its own image if you weren’t able to see them.
Images can be painful
The devastating nature of this disease is that when people are lying in a hospital bed surrounded by machines, they become hardly recognisable, and no longer look like the person you have known throughout your life.
If you’ve spoken to someone about the images in your mind, you may have been told to try not to think about them. This is almost impossible, no matter how many distractions you put in place. We think it’s more helpful to acknowledge that the images and pictures are indeed hard and painful. They are a horrible final picture for you. Unfortunately, death isn’t always a gentle slipping away.
Many pictures make up a relationship
Now think back to the first time you met and what they looked like that day. Or if your parent has died, think back to a happy memory. Think about their facial expressions and what they looked like in that moment.
We all have thousands of images stored in our minds of our loved ones. Some are happy, some are negative and sad. When the final ones are painful, it’s unrealistic to ask you not to remember what you saw or imagined. By acknowledging those unpleasant pictures instead of trying to block them out, you’ll allow the other pictures to make an appearance, too.
Your relationship was more than just the ending
Acknowledging the painful pictures and remembering others doesn’t minimise the painful ones. By allowing yourself to think about them and talk about them, the painful pictures will start to subside. Embrace pictures from your whole relationship, not just the ending.
If you need a safe place to be heard, please comment on this post. Our team are here to support you. If you would like to discuss your loss with a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, you can find someone who can provide online support here.
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