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Compounded Grief & PTSD

As an Energy Therapist & Breathworker, I have worked with PTSD cases and never doubted the impact trauma can have on the body, mind & spirit. PTSD floods a person’s psyche, emotional balance and coping skills. Before I continue, it is only fair to warn the reader that the following details may be disturbing.

This is the story of my PTSD from discovering my son’s body and the remedies that helped. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD (or believe you may have it) the remedies that helped me are provided at the end of the article. I believe any parent who loses a child may suffer PTSD because of the out of order death. With the fentanyl epidemic on the rise, PTSD compounded grief is becoming more common.

I hope the Remedies help soothe your grieving heart. xoxoLori

We had been calling Hayden all day. His car was home, but he wasn't... but he had a habit of taking Uber to a childhood buddy's home after we'd gone to bed. Hayden was a night owl. I texted him in the afternoon while I was at the market. He was our only child still living at home, our “Roomie” and Tim and I enjoyed evening dinners with him after his workday. It was his day off and it wasn’t unusual for him to be gone because he was a sociable kid. Everything felt super normal that day and I remember my neighbors driving by as we unloaded Costco and my hands were too full of boxes to wave, so I smiled as they passed by our driveway. I was wearing an indigo blue cotton top and white jeans and flip flops. Every single detail of that day is branded into my mind forever. When I carried the groceries into the house, I had to go to the bathroom and went into Hayden’s room because it was closest to the kitchen. That’s when I saw him in his bathroom.

The horror of the moment morphed time and space and the world was slow motion and blurry. I froze as I stood there and couldn't quite figure out what I was seeing. It was a person. As I walked toward him I felt this odd tingling in my stomach and I felt like I was immersed in molasses looking at the world through a warped piece of glass. I reached out to touch him and he was cold. I peed my pants.

Then I started to scream.

My husband’s PTSD is the sound of my screaming. He found me in the bathroom trying to lift Hayden. I began pumping his chest and screaming his name. He was cold and turning blue. I was hysterical. I ran out of the house to my neighbors who is a good friend and collapsed on the floor hyperventilating while she completed the 911 call I had started. She walked me back to my house and I regrettably went into the bathroom one last time.

When the ambulance arrived, the Coroner and the Sheriff’s station were contacted immediately. The detective arrived first and sat down and interviewed both me and my husband. I understand that every death in a home is legally treated like a crime scene until the cause of death is confirmed, but I will never forget the behavior and face of the sheriff who interrogated us. His manner was a disturbing mix of scrutiny, professional (forced) empathy peppered with a sinister edge as Tim and I shakingly described the traumatizing details of finding our son.

We were questioned about the timeline of the day and eventually(again,everything is slow motion) the detective wrapped it up and seemed satisfied that we had not murdered our child; telling us the coroner would arrive soon. Next I contacted Hayden’s two brothers, his twin and older brother. However, I immediately regretted this because I was told the coroner was running late and I didn't want them to see their brother in this state. The smell of iron filled our home. After an excruciating three hours, the coroner arrived. I can’t even describe what it feels like waiting for your deceased child’s body to be taken away.

“I can’t cry. What’s the matter with me…? Why aren’t I crying?”

I said this repeatedly. Shock had taken over and the world didn’t make sense. As parents, we spend years protecting our children. We hold their hands in traffic, put helmets on their heads and run alongside them when the training wheels come off of their bike.

It is hard for me to fathom that the one thing I could not protect him from…was himself.

The coroner finally arrived and I asked that Hayden’s body be taken through a side door to spare his brothers who entered through the front door just as he was being carried out.

The absolute confusion of the circumstances and the bureaucracy compounded my PTSD but it didn’t stop there. In the weeks that followed, I spent hours on the phone requesting autopsy and toxicology reports while coordinating the cremation and memorial plans. It was a living nightmare. My trauma was not only finding Hayden but also the procedure with the authorities and the ‘due process’.

I don’t mean to undermine the service provided by first responders. My son, Harrison, is an EMT and I understand the importance of procedure. I’m sharing this awful story because trauma like this compounds grief. Bureaucracy is necessary but it wiped out all sensitivity and sacredness and left us so empty.

It is the polar opposite of what a person needs when they realize they have just lost their child.

In my grief support group, there is a retired Los Angeles firefighter who candidly shared his experience about his long term career with the LA County Fire Department. He admitted there had been several occasions when he had to be the one to talk to the parents when their child had died in an accident. He candidly stated that (in hindsight) he had no right and was in no position to talk to parents about the loss of their child. He only came to realize this several years after retirement when he lost his own son.

As preparations for Hayden’ memorial were moving along, my PTSD was in full force. The detective’s face and the coroner's three hour delay came back to haunt me day and night.

I began to seek help. Images flashed rapidly through my mind and it was completely unpredictable. I could barely function. Finding support was difficult. There is a critical problem with the Mental Health Care system in our country.

During two weeks before Hayden took his own life, I was trying to locate a good therapist for him.

A break up with his girlfriend had left him devastated and he requested therapy, but the search was daunting. By the time I scheduled an appointment, he had committed suicide. He had an appointment five hours after he died. Now here I was experiencing PTSD from his death and I needed help and could not find anyone available!

A friend suggested EMDR, but it was impossible to locate an EMDR qualified therapist on my insurance list of providers. The trauma took on a life of its own. I began to run timelines of Hayden’s death and convinced myself that I could have saved him. The mind can alter reality. I had psychological episodes believing I could have controlled what happened that fateful morning. The flashbacks and panic attacks came out of nowhere and I was in a tailspin of guilt and depression.

This insanity continued for three months. My family kept telling me I couldn’t have saved him, but I couldn’t stop. I needed help.

I located a highly recommended Grief Counselor who offered EMDR. I gave up on my insurance paid cash. In the session, I spent an hour talking about Hayden’s death holding two buzzers and staring at a metal bar with a row of blinking lights. The Therapist asked me to describe the most disturbing visuals and the lights on the bar lit up. After two sessions with him the visions were not clear anymore. It’s as if there is a sunspot in the middle of a photograph. It really helped. If you have PTSD, I highly recommend EMDR.

As an Integrated Energy Therapist and a Certified Breathworker, I took the helm and sought my own healing. Prayer and meditation have also helped so much to put me back together again and I am much better. Here are the remedies that eased my pain.


EMDR with a Qualified Grief Counselor: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR Therapy) is an evidence-based approach to treating trauma and PTSD.In EMDR therapy, the client focuses on the troubling image or negative thought while simultaneously moving their eyes back and forth. To prompt this eye moment, EMDR practitioners might move their fingers from side to side, tap their hand from side to side, or wave a wand. The client moves their eyes back and forth to follow the prompt.

During this processing, the client notices whatever thoughts, feelings, images, memories, or sensations might arise. The eye movements prompt the brain to make associations and neural connections that help integrate the disturbing memories. Eventually, the distress associated with the memory dissolves. Due to it’s success,EMDR is FDA approved and has become more available in the last three years. Check your area for Grief Counselors who offer the service

Trauma Counseling: Contact your local Hospice for free Grief Counseling.

Spiritual Counseling: with a Reverend, Rabbi or representative within your current (or raised)religion.

Locate a Grief Doula - If you’ve lost a loved one in the last year, there is a free service that qualifies you for 4 one hour sessions with a Grief Doula (usually a Hospice Nurse) available at the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization.

Integrated Energy Therapy - is a safe, gentle, nurturing way to empower and balance your life by helping you release patterns of the past for good! Feelings and sensations are stored in the cells of the body much like facts are stored in the cells of the brain. Negative or traumatic experiences, stress, unexpressed emotion, fear, anger, resentment or self-limiting beliefs can become “stuck” (or suppressed) in the body and inhibit or disrupt the flow of vital life force at a cellular level. These energy blockages limit our experience of life and can result in a lack of spontaneity, energy depletion, a feeling of unrest, agitation or dis-ease. IET uses a unique Cellular Memory Map® to target specific areas in the body where these “cellular memories” are stored, helping to release them on all levels - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. As these blocks are cleared, the suppressed charge of energy dissipates and your energy field is re-balanced. The more your energy body opens and vital life force can flow freely through it, the closer you move to a natural state of being: Balanced.

Breathwork & Meditation - If you cannot find a Breathworker or Meditation specialist in your area, please contact us at

Sleep Discipline - A solid eight hours of sleep every night.

Try something new. I purchased a vintage camera and photograph animals and nature. This fills my mind with exploration and creativity. I love it!

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Lori’s story is deeply moving and bears information I never knew about, and am grateful to have now. I know she will help many others with this article, and with her ongoing assistance to those who have suffered as she has. A beautiful person.

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