Recently I heard a local news report which involved the Medical Examiner who attended Melanie when she died. Apparently his parents and 19 year old son were murdered. Sadly he found them. Soon after hearing this I woke up in the middle of the night with a very heavy heart.
There are still nights when I lay in my bed and think this is all a bad dream. Someone else’s nightmare and certainly not my life.
Melanie cannot be dead. She cannot be gone. I think about her laying in that bed, in that hotel. I replay holding the phone to my ear all the while answering questions to faceless police detectives.
That is not my daughter. This is all a big mistake. I just knew the phone was going to ring in with another call and it would be her telling me she was alright.
I will never forget the voice of the Medical Examiner getting on the phone and asking if I was the mother of Melanie. He couldn’t even pronounce her last name. I corrected him. Then when he told me she was deceased, I agreed. Like it was ok. NO, I wanted to scream. It’s not ok! It can’t be her!
In all of my dealings with the Medical Examiner he was very short with me, perfunctory and his tone seemed very unfeeling. In later conversations he said things which I found to be unprofessional and assumptive. Perhaps he behaved this way as a result of the line of work he’s in. Because of that I always gave him grace because I knew I was in a highly emotional state and he was doing a job I could never imagine doing.
Hearing the tragic news of his family’s death was a trigger for me. It had me journeying back in time, reliving the most painful moments of my nightmare in Room 221.
It’s important to know that feeling triggered isn’t just about something rubbing you the wrong way. For someone with a history of trauma, being around anyone or anything that reminds them of the traumatic experience can make them feel like they’re experiencing the trauma all over again.
Following are the thoughts that seemed to pour out from my heart as I lay there in my bed in the dark:
My dear Melanie, I keep thinking about how long you laid there. By the time I found out you were gone you’d already been in heaven for a little more than a day. When the overwhelming sadness hits me I remind myself that you’re more than fine now. You’re happy. You’re healed, peaceful, and restored. But I miss you so very much. Still. Always. Forever. Nothing will ever quite be the same again.
The trauma over losing you still haunts me. I’ve developed anxiety. I no longer sleep well. It’s strange how I’ve become fearful of things I shouldn’t be or never was. It’s anxiety. Fear that the other shoe will drop. Who else in my life is going to leave and not come home? Who else is going to die on me unexpectedly? I just can’t bear the thought.
Home has become my safe place. Oftentimes I don’t even want to leave. I truly know in my heart that God keeps me safe but I still prefer not to venture too far. Every day I pray His angels have charge over me and my loved ones.
Will this awful feeling ever go away?
There are many nights as I close my eyes to sleep I see you, laying on that bed in Room 221.
Friends, triggers are a part of the grief journey. I never understood them before. Thankfully I quickly realized that this was what was happening to me. Triggers can set you in a backward momentum if you let it. How grateful I am for my faith and trust in God. As I call out to him, he is there. Ready and waiting to lift me up and carry me through these moments.
My heart is broken for the Medical Examiner. I understand all too well how he must be feeling. I pray the God of all comfort will touch his heart in a mighty way.
His life will be forever changed, just as ours is. As he walks his own grief journey I pray he will approach others in a kinder and more gentle manner when telling them of their loved ones death. May God envelop him with a peace that truly passes all understanding and may the same peace touch each of us as we continue to walk this ever evolving journey.