Need help with how to comfort parent after traumatic experience

I can’t even believe what I’m about to say here but yesterday my mom called me crying because she found a body frozen in the lake at the local park. She had just been released from the police and called me to tell me what happened and she could barely speak coherently because she was so tore up. I can’t even begin to imagine what she must have felt or how messed up she must be after discovering that.

The thing is, I have no idea how to help her or what to even say or do. I don’t want her to have to deal with it alone and she said she had nightmares about it last night already and its terrible of me but I have no idea what to say or how to help her through it. I am the absolute worst person at comforting others. I am so lost as to how I should say or do… She is the type of person to refuse therapy, or even admit she has a problem, so I’m not sure that would be the best route to offer up to her but I’m not sure how else to help. I’m sure she will choose to deal with it on her own but I just don’t want her to feel that she is alone.

She loves nature and constantly drives around to the local parks to enjoy the views and I fear that this discovery has ruined that passtime for her. And I hike a lot by myself and she has already started to try to rein me in, telling me not to go places by myself, or if I do to be careful, be armed, let people know where I am at all times, etc. Being her overprotective usual self but tenfold now. (btw I’m a 29 yr old adult…) I was actually out hiking at a frozen lake yesterday and now I’m afraid to even post the photos on social media for fear that I am going to upset her and remind her of that.

Can anyone help me with advice on how I could help my mom?

3 Likes

Hi there,
that is such an unexpected thing your mom had to go through! It must have been very upsetting.
Would it help if you and her did a mini ritual of sort, a bonfire or plant a tree somewhere (maybe not at her house, but somewhere in nature) to sort of honour the deceased and say that you’re sorry for what happened to them, but you hope that the discovery could help his loved ones get some closure? 9if the identity is known, that is).

this is just what came to mind at first as a way of ‘releasing’ back to the elements the body she discovered, and knowing that the person has been freed from where they were.

And maybe therapy can be suggested, not as needing mental help, but having a qualified sort of friend who could help her sleep properly and process this incident.

PS: it’s not horrible of you to not know how to handle this. This is Not an ordinary occurrence by any means! Wishing her well, just be there for her, let her know she can call you to talk. Does she have company at nights? Maybe someone can stay with her and make her a bit more safe and comfortable at nights so she can get some rest.

3 Likes

Hi friend, goodness that must have been just awful for your mum and shocking for you. Its awful to hear the people we love so upset and always want to do everything we can to take that upset away but as @sita says this is far from a normal situation and how on earth do we prepare for something like this? One thing that I thought of and thankfully again @sita has mentioned is the person who you Mum found, if I myself had come across them, after the initial shock I think I would be dwellng on the individual rather than finding them and would in some way want to do something myself to know in my own mind that they were at peace as it was obviously traumatic, so I would either maybe go to a church if i were that way inclined and light a candle, take a rose to the place in time if of course she feels she can, make the place a place or rememberence rather than horror.
For now though just be near your mum as when we encounter any form of passing we tend to dwell on it as a whole and start to think about the “what ifs” just to be there and listen will really be enough and will be a huge comfort, let her know she is loved, I think she is very lucky to have a daughter like you. I hope that everything settles down and that the family of that person also finds some peace.
Much Love
Lisa :heart:

3 Likes

Hi Sita :heart:
Thank you so much for this great idea! I haven’t told her yet but really believe that she will love this idea of planting a tree in his honor. That is so very beautiful.

It took me literally all morning to work up the courage to call her. I’m not sure why I’m like that, awkward and standoffish - she’s my mother! I shouldn’t feel so awkward calling her lol. I knew I wanted to call her to check in, but I was so unsure of what to say. After hours of staring at her contact in my phone, setting it down, picking it back up, writing a text message, deleting it, setting the phone down again… lol I finally called her a while ago to check in. She seemed very upset still and was in tears for most of the call but I did try to comfort her a few times and let her know that it was a very traumatic thing to discover but at least her finding him gives his family closure and comfort. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have a family member be reported as missing, and then endlessly search for them not knowing where they were or what happened to them, but at least this family will know now due to my mom’s eagle eyes. (What is really crazy is that she actually has terrible eyesight, and she only spotted him because she was using her “military grade binoculars” that she bought herself for Christmas to spot wildlife. Without them, she would never have seen him. It’s a little crazy to think about that. It seems it is a blessing in disguise? The blessing being that she found him for the family to have closure but then also I believe that she is going to be reeling about this incident for awhile…)

But anyway by the end of the phone call we were laughing and joking with each other about anything and everything so I think its going to take some time to process but I think she is on the right track. She does have a long time boyfriend that she has to lean on at home so that is good - at least she is not alone. I tried to make dinner plans with her this evening but she already had plans, otherwise I would have went to go see her to comfort her in person as much as I could.

Thank you for your kind words and excellent idea. I really appreciate you and this community for being here to lean on and lend advice.

2 Likes

Thank you so much for your kindness and advice. My mother has always been a religious person and she mentioned today that every time she starts thinking about it, she begins praying. I think it brings her great comfort so that in itself is a wonderful thing.

At this time, I think she is most concerned with the family of the deceased and the fact that she doesn’t know or understand what happened. She was also very upset that it was so nearby to a walking trail. She kept saying that if people would have just paid some attention and looked down, then maybe they could have seen him and helped him while he was still alive, so she is definitely starting down the “what ifs” road. Its hard to make her understand right now that we will most likely never ever know and its just going to remain a mystery. There’s just no way for us to know what happened.

I called her and talked to her for a while today just to check in and she seemed to be holding up okay, still upset, but better than yesterday. I just hope she continues in that direction. Its so hard to see my mom, who puts up this strong and “nothing can bother me” front and then see her broken down and upset and crying. Very hard! It upsets ME to see her so upset and not knowing how to help her. I just hope that my call helped a little.

I am so far out of my element with this situation, so thank you again for taking the time to reach out and lend advice. I really appreciate it.

2 Likes

hi again,
so glad that the idea resonated with you! I really hope it’ll help her!

You’re doing a good job, too, friend! It can be hard to begin the dialogue when you know someone is hurting, and it seems like she got a lot of comfort from that call!

We’re here for you :slight_smile:

Hey, of course it upsets you to see your Mum upset, you love your Mum and to see her upset or hurting is heartbreaking, you want to protect your Mum as much as she wants to protect you.
I can certainly understand why mum is thinking about the family of the person involved, its such a bizarre situation that could have so many different scenarios but they all end the same way. When something happens that seems so unjust nothing else makes sense either.
Each and everyday things will improve and it will all get easier and im pleased that you liked sitas idea of planting a tree, it was a lovely idea.
Im not a religious person but I am a spriitual person and some things happen that I just dont understand and hope one day will all be explained but others like someone finding that person so that their family can say goodbye properly is meant to be, im just sorry it had to be so upsetting. I like to light candles for people myself so I will light one for both your mum and the person who passed tonight. Take care friend and again thank you for caring so very much. x

1 Like