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Jonsblond's avatar

How do you console a hysterical grieving mother who might lose her adult daughter to a drunk driver?

Asked by Jonsblond (7710points) 1 month ago from iPhone

I can’t be there physically for my friend. What can I do?

Her adult daughter, mid-20s, was hit by a drunk driver. She’s in a coma and most likely won’t survive. This is my worst fear. How do you support someone from afar during a time like this?
I imagine she’s receiving multiple messages. If I were in her situation I don’t know how I’d keep up. I’d feel overwhelmed.

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26 Answers

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Jeruba's avatar

I can’t imagine the horror of it. The closest I can come was finding out my son was picked up as a John Doe and taken to the county hospital after being beaten up in the parking lot behind a bar, His injuries were not life-threatening, but I was still full of anxiety and fear.

The best I can suggest is the humble but practical offering of a meal. It’s so hard to remember to feed yourself and act on it when you’re in deep distress, especially when hospitals are involved. Can you send her a meal from a local restaurant, something that will do nicely when warmed over? I truly appreciated all the meals that came in from friends when my husband had just passed. I couldn’t have managed any cooking.

Jonsblond's avatar

^Helping with a meal was my first instinct. It was difficult for my family when we recently all had Covid. We spent so much money on delivery.

Jeruba's avatar

If she’s back where you used to live, you’ll know the place to order from. Or, maybe better, call the restaurant and give them an order and a credit card, and then just tell her all she has to do is call them and say when.

Jonsblond's avatar

Her daughter was in Chicago when this happened and is in a Chicago hospital. They are both from the Peoria area. This only adds to her expense. Maybe money sent directly to her would be best. :(

Jeruba's avatar

She doesn’t want money. I’m guessing that sparing her the hassle of meals is the main thing. Do you know where she’s staying? Arrange it through them.

Jonsblond's avatar

She’s lashing out at friends who aren’t saying the right things. This is why I’m hesitant. :(

Jeruba's avatar

It would be easy to say the wrong thing, I imagine: “I know what you’re going through,” or anything that starts with “I know someone who….” The best message might simply be “I love you and I’m here for you.”

Especially if she’s ever been there for you.

Jonsblond's avatar

It’s easy to say the wrong thing when you haven’t been there but you are trying to be positive. That’s what happened with a mutual friend. I’ve only offered love and good vibes so far. I just feel like I should do more.

Jeruba's avatar

Maybe just wait a little and let your intuition tell you when to do something more. This situation is not going to resolve quickly, whether the daughter lives or not.

longgone's avatar

If she’s a very good friend, can you go be with her? Otherwise, I’d get on the phone and take my cues from what she says. If she wants to rant at the drunk driver, gently join in. If she wants to cry, just listen and make soothing noises periodically. “Oh, sweetie. I know. It’s okay to cry. I love you. I’m here.” Repeat for as long as she’s crying. If you start crying, too, that’s okay. It might be just what she needs. She’s in a very dark place, and you can’t get her out because she’s right to be so sad. However, you can go be in the dark place with her so she’s not alone: https://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw.

I would try very hard not to offer advice. Maybe keep paper and a pen close by so you can jot down all the advice that pops into your head while you’re talking. When people are this sad, we want to give advice to make it all better. But she’s getting great advice all day long, and I bet she just can’t take it anymore. She knows she needs to eat, that it might be okay, that she has to sleep and trust the doctors.

During your conversation, she might say scary things. She might express that she has no idea how to continue her life if her daughter dies. You might get really nervous to hear that, so prepare yourself for this possibility and think about what to do if you get too anxious yourself. You can say you’ll be right back, you need to get the door or use the bathroom. You can take a sip of a warm beverage you’ve prepared for yourself. You can listen to your breathing or feel your feet as a grounding exercise. You can even just hold the phone away from your ear for a second, take a really deep breath, and look around to remind yourself that you are safe. In your friend’s situation, it’s normal to wonder how life could possibly go on. It doesn’t mean she will kill herself if her daughter dies, at all. And if she can tell you about these scary thoughts without judgment, there’s a good chance she’ll tell you, too, if she ever does seriously consider it.

I wonder if she’s lashing out because people are telling her it’ll be okay (that’s BS), or that she just needs to believe things will work out (that puts undue responsibility on the mother). People might also say things like “I can’t bear to see you so sad”. Anything that might read to her as “Stop being so sad.” or “Your sadness is making others uncomfortable.” will make her lash out, for sure.

It’s brave and kind of you to help.

janbb's avatar

I wouldn’t call her at this point or do anything with the expectation of a response. I also imagine she doesn’t have the urge to eat or the desire to choose meals. I think I would just send a simple e-mail saying something like, “No parent should have to go through what you are faced with. I can barely imagine what you are feeling. If you care to talk at any point, I am here and I’ll be checking in with you from time to time.”

I don’t think I’d do anything else right now, but if you have friends still in Peoria, you might think of organizing a meal train later when she is back home for homemade meals or delivery meals to be sent to her house. We do that in my congregation. Or you could consider sending money but I wouldn’t do that yet.

LostInParadise's avatar

How about sending a letter? Do people do that anymore? Just write a brief message saying how sorry you are about what happened and asking if there is anything you could do to help.

Jonsblond's avatar

Good advice everyone. Thank you.

JLeslie's avatar

I can’t imagine it. It’s devastating.

If I had a mutual friend who lived by her I would call them and see what local people are doing to help her and offer to contribute if they are bringing her food. I’d also want to know she has people around her, her family or friends, I’d want to know she isn’t alone if I can’t easily go to be with her. Hopefully, the mutual friend can fill you in and guide you to what might be helpful.

I would call or text her once, and if she didn’t pick up I’d leave a message and tell her not to worry about calling back, but that she can call me any time day or night, it can be 2am and it won’t bother me.

If her daughter does die, I’d send a card if I can’t be there. I’d find out if the service will be on zoom or Facebook so I can attend virtually. I’d call a few weeks after her funeral and all of the services are over, when people aren’t around as much and she might still need to talk and cry and be heard or even be distracted.

I’m not sure someone can be consoled or comforted in that situation, it’s more like getting them through it, especially initially.

RayaHope's avatar

My heart is breaking trying to read these comments. I can’t possibly know what she is going through, but I do know that no matter what you do or don’t do can’t be enough. She’ll have to do this herself and all you can do is be there physically or by phone and listen to her be a shoulder to cry on and maybe even one to take a punch if needed. I so hope and pray her daughter pulls through this and I am broken thinking of this tragically terrible ordeal her family now faces.

Jeruba's avatar

@Jonsblond, please follow up with us here when you know more.

Caravanfan's avatar

She is living my nightmare.

Pandora's avatar

Just put it out there that if she needs anything you can help her with that you want her to know that she can count on you. If she just wants to rant and rage out and cry you will listen. Tell her you can’t imagine her pain and know there is nothing you can do to make it go away but you want to keep checking in on her to make sure she is keeping up her strength.
I always feel the worse things people say are I understand how you feel. You don’t unless you’ve been through something similar. It is all our nightmare as parents but as someone who almost lost my daughter once before, I can tell you it’s worse than what you imagine it will feel like. You feel horribly broken inside. You can’t think of any physical thing that could hurt as much. Not stabbed, shot or falling down a mountain. Every minute is excruciating pain and even with that, you will struggle through it if it means there will be a miracle and they survive. There is nothing you won’t do for that miracle. I pray she gets her miracle. When in are in that dark place, you don’t see what’s in front of you. You see all the things that will never be and that rage can be equally painful.

Jonsblond's avatar

Her daughter is still on life support. She has a broken collarbone, spine and bleeding of the brain. There is brain activity but she’s still in a coma. This is all I know from posts made by her daughter’s friends on Facebook. My friend has been silent since I asked this question and is not responding to messages.

Jonsblond's avatar

I’ve heard from my friend. It’s been eleven days of her daughter being in a coma. Mom isn’t getting sleep and she’ll be meeting with her team to discuss options.

Mom is anguished.

JLeslie's avatar

Heartbreaking. Thanks for the update.

Jonsblond's avatar

Her daughter has passed away.

janbb's avatar

^^ So very sad.

Jonsblond's avatar

Especially being right before Christmas. I can’t imagine the pain.

She is grateful for the outpouring of support she’s received

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