Reliving father's death


Reliving father's death


your avatar   Tamara, 16-year-old woman


My parents separated when I was 3, so I don't really remember living in one house. I always went back and forth.

The last couple of weeks I haven't been myself. I am very sensitive to what people say and do. I have been snapping at my mom when she tries to help me, and also my friends. When I was fourteen I watched my father die. I was the one taking care of him. Now two years later, I can't sleep because I see it over and over when I close my eyes.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Tamara my dear,

You haven't given me much information to work on, but at least one aspect of your problem is clear: you are not only grieving for your father, but were also traumatized by his death. So, let's deal with these two issues.

Your father is still around. He, as a person, is able to think and feel and be aware of what goes on with you. This is no longer a matter of religious belief. I don't know what your religion is, if any, but there is scientific evidence that when a person leaves the body, the personality, soul, call it what you like, continues.

I am guessing that your father was suffering before he died. He is not suffering any more, except that he is almost certainly very sad that his death has affected you like this. If he could, he would reassure you, and let you know that he is OK. Some people seem to be sensitive to such things. Maybe you can ask him to send you some signal, some form of direct or indirect communication. Who knows what might happen.

Second, you were with him when he died, and being a caring, sensitive person, this has traumatised you. You see it whenever you close your eyes. You can do something about this. You can have a few sessions with a psychologist who is competent at using hypnosis. However, if necessary, you can do it without. First, find a photo of your father at his best. Until now, you have been repelled and horrified by flashbacks to his death. You have wanted these experiences to stop. This is why they keep coming back. "I want this to stop!" focuses attention on the flashback. Attention is energy. So, you have been giving your distress energy to continue.

You need to do the opposite. Preferably when hypnotised (because that works faster and better), actually INVITE the flashback. Then calmly watch your distress. It is OK to feel terrible...simply observe how bad it makes you feel. Rate it from 1 to 10 on how strong it is. "I can see father just like then, and it's 9 out of 10 - it's terrible."

Go over and over the memory, and you will find that the distress fades. After the 2nd, 3rd or 10th repetition, it will be maybe 3 out of 10 or even less. The next step (either with your eyes open, looking at the photo, or picturing him in your imagination) is to see your father as he was then. Say to yourself, "This is my father." Keep doing this a number of times too.

After this, whenever you think of him, you will see him at his best, the way he was when that photo was taken - and you will be able to progress with your grieving.

Have a good life (you can),


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:

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