My son just found out his BFF was hit and killed by a drunk driver. And two of his friends who were also hit are in critical condition. Understandably my son isn't taking it very well. Prayers for those families would be greatly appreciated.
You and your son and the other victim's family's are most definitely in my thoughts and prayers. Drunk driving accidents are devastating. In 2008, I lost a cousin who was like a brother to me, it was so sudden and left a hole in our family.
Angela, that is horrible. I am so very sorry that your son is having to deal with such a loss, not to mention the families of the victims! My brother and his friend were hit by a drunk driver on August 31, 2001, my brother survived and his friend didn't. It was very traumatic for us all so I can relate a little bit to the feeling.
Your son and the families of the victims will definitely be in my prayers.
Anna - If you don't mind me asking, what kind of injuries did your brother have. And how is he doing now. Does he have any residual affects from it? My son's other friend (who is one of the boys in critical condition) is in a medical induced coma and not doing very well. They can't do anything until the brain swelling goes down. So I'm just trying to get some perspective.
I'm so very sorry! I will absolutely be praying for the victims and their families -- and your son (and all your family!) as well during this time! There is no "making sense" of such a tragedy that did not have to happen. (((((((HUGS))))))
I do recommend the MADD website for resources and to connect with support in your area. As your son appears to have been very close to the victim(s), then this sudden loss is going to hit him (and your family) a bit harder -- just as if it was a close family member. The stages of grief may not appear immediately but I do urge him to connect with someone that he can talk to that he trusts -- either you and your dh, a counselor at school (even if he has since graduated), a pastor or youth minister at church, or other counselor. He needs someone that he can dump the huge range of emotions that he's bound to go through in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead... that will listen but not try to "fix" since obviously there is no fixing this. It may be a roller coaster ride for a while emotionally... but keeping it all bottled up will generally find a place/time when it explodes.
If he doesn't want to talk or isn't ready, urge him to write -- whether in a notebook or journal, an online blog, or simply in a word doc that he keeps on his computer. Others may find it helpful to express themselves through music or drawing.
Another thought -- with sudden accidental deaths so much feels out of control that it can seem overwhelming. Maybe help your son (and his friends) direct that energy and desire to "do something" towards something that they CAN take charge of. Ideas may include taking part as a group (you can even have them wear similar t-shirts) in a "Walk like MADD" tribute walk. (If there isn't one in your area, contact them about organizing one and have your son play a large role in pulling this together.) Maybe suggest that they work with the victim(s) family to raise money for a memorial that would celebrate their son's life... For example, if he was a cyclist/walker/hiker -- maybe look for putting a living memorial along one of his favorite park trails. As painful as it sounds, maybe look for ways to help educate other teens on the dangers of drunk driving. I understand that those charged in this instance were older. Unfortunately, however, it is difficult to reach that audience. Given that these victims were so close still to high school age, maybe those that are upcoming Juniors and seniors will make enough of a connection to this horrifying (and senseless) loss -- enough that it may make an impact on THEIR decision to get behind a wheel while impaired -- or in a car with someone else that is. Again, the idea for those left behind grieving is to attempt to channel that energy to bring *something* positive forth.
Other ideas are to organize meals, babysitting (for younger siblings of the victims), or setting up funds to help offset medical expenses for those friends' families that are still battling for their lives.
Here is one brochure from the MADD Victim Services (in the resource section) that you may find helpful:
Thank you Missy for the information. I'm not sure if it's his age or just me, but he doesn't really like to talk about these things. He use to talk to me about EVERYTHING. I did talk to him about grief and that he will ALWAYS miss Shane and have moments but that was normal. I told him that he needed to work through the grief process and everyone's process goes at it's own pace. I also warned him I'm going to be checking for a while to make sure he's okay. I'm not sure if he can but I told him if he could he should go and give an impact statement at the man sentencing who did this.
What makes me even sadder is the last in depth conversation I had with Shane was about alcohol and to wait until you are 21 and about being responsible. And that even though you are 21 it does NOT make you responsible to drink. It just really floors me that the very thing I was lecturing them about took his life. And he wasn't even doing anything wrong.
I'm so sad I will never hear my son say "I'm going to go hang out with Shane."
Angela, the amazing and miraculous thing about my brother's situation was that he was completely unharmed. His residual effects are all emotional and he really never was the same again after that accident. It was some time later that he was even able to discuss it with me and tell me his memory of what happened. He told me that he and Kris were just going through a green light and then they were spinning and the next the he remembers is waking up and the car was in the bar ditch. He said that he ran his fingers through his hair and then his hand was covered in blood. It took him just a minute to figure out that it wasn't his blood. He said that he looked over at Kris and knew immediately that he was gone, but couldn't stop himself from screaming his name and yelling for him to wake up. He then climbed out of the passenger window and went around the car to the drivers side where the impact happened and saw a gash in Kris's head where the bumper of the truck had struck him.
He suffers from survivors guilt and after telling me that story once he's never discussed it again. He became a volunteer firefighter after that where he was part of a team that regularly responded to accidents like that all the time. Of course we all feel guilty being grateful that my brother lived. If that drunk driver or the car my brother was in had been headed in the opposite direction it could have been my brother to died that night. It stick with you.
I don't know about the physical injuries suffered by the other persons in the car, but if they heal from all of those they will still have an insane amount of emotional healing to do. And even though your son wasn't in the car (thank God) he is obviously going to be deeply affected by it and I think that Missy made some very good points about redirecting energy and focusing on something he can control. I think volunteer firefighter thing really helped my brother and I wonder where he would have turned if he hadn't had something so positive to focus on. My brother today is a very wonderful person with lots of empathy and a very productive 30 year old man. He deals with grief by taking action, and when my dad died in March, he immediately went into action taking care of everything for mom.
Anyway, I'm not sure if any of that is helpful at all for you and you likely didn't care for me to write you a whole book about it, but I feel I can somewhat relate to your perspective of being someone just outside of the situation hurting for your loved one who has suffered such a senseless loss. I hope that your son talks to you about it at least once. Keep us posted on how he is dealing with everything and how the other victims are doing.