A Family Broken

by Cynthia

When I was 20 years old my younger brother died of Leukemia at age
15. Two years later my Aunt, Uncle and cousin (also age 15) died
in a terrible motor vehicle accident where six others also died. My aunt and uncle were traveling from AZ to back east somewhere to visit
relatives during their summer vacation. From what I have heard, the car was traveling in OK. and there was a brush fire that had created a lot of smoke on the highway and someone panicked and stopped their car.
This created a car pileup of many vehicles. A tractor trailer hit
the rear car and some of the cars started on fire. My relatives died
at the scene and were burned beyond recognition. The youngest child in the car, there were the parents and two cousins present, survived. Her mother had taken her out of the car and placed her beside the highway and went back to her car to try and help her unconcious husband and son.
That is when the tractor trailer hit and she did not get out alive.

I had grown up with my cousins. They were on my father's side, his two brothers lived in AZ. They and we were all very close. We had outdoor BBQ's around the swimming pools, all the holidays were spent together, the familie's adults played poker at each others houses and we kids
played together. My cousins were all younger than I by a couple of
years. My cousins seemed like brothers and sisters to me.

The family was never the same after this. There were no more card
"parties." No family holidays. The losses were immense, not just
the losses of the people.

What was hard for me as a young person was I lost that feeling you have when you are young of feelng immortal. In thinkng death only comes to older people. I had to think about death, and I wondered where my little brother went/was. It frightened me. And our family was a "no-talk" family. My brothers death was rarely spoken of. I was never "talked" to about it. I just had to deal with the pain the best I could on my own.
I did not fare well.

Around five years or so after these events I began having anxiety attacks and panic attacks whenever I was out driving on a trip. Usually they started when I was in the middle of the desert. It was an overwhelming fear that came out of nowhere. So long story longer, I
stopped traveling out of town. I just couldn't do it without the
fear of more panic. I became trapped inside the boundaries of the city.
It didn't completely stop the panic attacks. I would wake up in the
middle of the night shaking and panicking. Free-floating anxiety could hit me at any time any place. I of course, tried therapy, medication,
all of that. Was told I had PTSD and other diagnoses, which helped somewhat with the panic attacks. But I was
trapped within the city boundaries for over 25 years. I also had marriages that failed. Relationships were very difficult for me.

I remember hating to hear the phone ring because it brought such terrible painful news, and it scared me also when it would ring.

I have found healing, and it took over 20 years to finally begin the process of getting out of "hell." I was at the bottom of bottoms and asked for help from a higher power. And I am not here to promote any book, or spiritual practice, religion, etc. It is just what happened for me. For about a week or so after asking for help I kept hearing about a book called "A Course In Miracles." And it was through studying it and my own mind beginning to understand things differently, that I could finally start releasing my fears.

I have come a long way, I went across the country by car with my dog in 2002. All the way to Virginia and back. I can travel anywhere now that I want and have little or no fear. The desert can sometimes bug me a little but I go through it anyway. And living in AZ anywhere you travel you go through a desert.

There is no way to understand why awful things happen to people. My husband today has never had a death in his family except grandparents.
It is hard for someone to relate to your experience they haven't had.
And the aftermath of such tragedies, few can relate to.

It can be really hard, but there is hope and healing if we choose to look and ask for it. And then it is a process and does take time. The memories never die and the love for those we loved and loss never does either. As someone said "yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift and that's why it's called the present.

Comments for A Family Broken

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Jul 30, 2011
thank you for your message
by: geoffrey pyne campbell

I am praying for you, your tears are counted by One who loves you more than any Son or Daughter, and He feels your sorrow too, as it is written in Isaiah,.."in all our afflictions He is afflicted." So you are not alone in all your loss and in all your grief and sorrow, there is One you can turn to, He will help you as He has me, in my grief and sorrow, for I too have experienced great loss. Through my grief and sorrow and love has not dissipated, His love and presence through all this has given me strength to meet each day. Sincerely, you have a friend in Scranton Pennsylvania, Geoffrey Campbell

Jul 30, 2011
grief and panic


I am so glad that you found the help to over come your severe panic attacks. After my husband died I found myself being overly nervous, feeling incapable and inept. The logical part of me did not understand this because I had been hubbys caregiver for over a year. I managed to get every thing taken care of from his health to keeping a roof over our heads.

I think that recovering from grief and keeping the panic attacks at bay have to do with how we view our selves. The self esteem seems to shrink to zero when we are overwhelmed. Some type of protection in our minds to bail. Just mentally run from the things that scare us so badly.

That.....feeling may not be true for all that grieve I just know that I lost more than my husband when he died. I lost myself I lost the very core of who I was Dec 6th 2011.

I am on the road to recovery now it is a slow process and I don't think it is the medication or the 2 shrink apts that did it. It was realizing/accepting that my life had been shattered and my mind could not be the strong person that I had always been. In essence it is as if I am a teenager once again with all the pain of self realization starting over to find out who I will become from here.

I hope that you and everyone here is able to become the new person the best person that they can be after their life was shattered to the very ground of nothingness.

P.S the word below is shrank funny in an odd sort of way huh

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