I Need Opinions, Please

by Kerri
(Warwick, RI)

My son died a traumatic death and his body was in the woods for 9 days before he was found. There was a great deal of decomposition and I was not allowed to see him. Almost 4 months have passed and I find myself still not accepting or believing he is gone. It just isn't real to me. I know that is a normal feeling, but I wonder if after 4 months I should be realizing that he really is gone. I now have this overwhelming feeling that I need to see the photographs that were taken by the medical examiner and police when he was found. I also think I just want the chance to decide if I want to see them - as his mother I would be highly insulted and hurt if I couldn't make that decision for myself.

Has anyone else been in this situation? What were your feelings afterwards? I would appreciate any comments on this. Thank you.


Comments for I Need Opinions, Please

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Jul 13, 2013
your son would not want you to see him this way
by: Tenna

Please don,t look at the pictures. Those images will be with you for the rest of your life. I saw my son in the hospital emergency room, by the time I got there he was gone. Try as I might my thoughts start off of him at all ages and stages of his life ,but they some how go back to that awful day.I just wanted him to wake up and hold me and tell me "I love you mom". Just keep in your heart and mind the good pictures of him and know some day we will be with our children again.

Apr 28, 2012
a nurse and mom
by: Anonymous

I also lost my son 2 years ago his wife called me from the apartment and I rushed over. I can not get the image of him lying on the floor out of my mind. I truly wish I had never seen him like that.I can not imagine having what you would see stuck in my head forever. From reading the posts on this site I now know we all struggle with the same thing,we are simply not able to accept that this is real. It will not help you to view those pictures. I already have a picture in my head that I cant get rid of, please dont give yourself one. Also having worked in the ER I have seen many car accident victims, many DOA. It is not something you ever want see if it is someone you love. Yours could only be worse.I am so glad that I found this site. To know I am not alone in feeling as I do about so many things .We are not crazy, just broken.

Feb 18, 2012
Tough Choice
by: A Mom Like You

My son shot himself in the head and was not found for 13 days. My brother in law identified him for me. I knew if I saw him destroyed I would probably never recover. My son was cremated.

I too have struggled with not having seen him actually dead. His older brother has as well. Shooting himself was totally opposite of his gentle character. His note however hinted at mental illness, and when we finally got into his computer we found that he had been masterfully hiding delusions from us for a long time.

It's been a year and I still expect my sweet straight A student to come through the door and say "Hi Mom." How he ended his life had nothing to do with the son I knew. It was the mental illness that killed him. HE would not want me to see him that way. I don't want to be haunted by him that way and I know I would be.

Feb 07, 2012
Not to view
by: Eve Bright

I chose not to view my stepson, and the reason was simple. I want to remember him as I last saw him, smiling and happy. He was a 27 year old man who had finally landed the job of his dreams. He was going to propose to his girlfriend of 6 years and spoke of buying a home. He was holding her hand when they both were killed in a horrible car crash.
I have his picture as my background on my computer with Jena. Pat and Jena will smile from my background for as long as it takes.
I remember them laughing, holding hands and being happy.
I have seen people after car accidents and those images are burned into my memory....and those were people I didn't know and love. I have come across accidents and had to be the one to call 911....a couple were dead and some were alive and very messy.

I recommend you do not view the photos, and allow yourself as much time as you need. It will take years to accept you cannot pick up a phone and call him.
When I lost my aunt it took about 5 years to come to grips with it, with my grandmother I was holding her hand when she passed...it took years then too. With my ex-husband (he passed in may 2011) I still take a double look when I see someone look like him, engaged in some familiar activity..(he used to ride his bike and had a longish gray beard).
Be kind to yourself and expect it to take as long as needed until.

Jan 22, 2012
Still trying to accept
by: Diana Bomers

My son, Eric, died November 15, 2010 during a traffic accident. He was riding a motorcycle and was only 19. I lost my father when I was 17, another motorcycle fatality. They both went head first into another vehicle. I saw my father and the damage to his head haunts me to this day. I chose not to see my son and in fact did not allow anyone to see him that way. I don't think you can fully accept the loss of your beautiful child after four months. I'm not fully accepting after 14 months. It is very easy to relax for a moment and let the horror go away. Then the shock of realizing it all over again hits. This does get better with time. I'm beginning to feal some relief. The memory of your loved one's body destroyed does not go away. You will always remember your son as he was in life. Give yourself time and forgiveness. Take as many free passes as you need. Diana

Jan 16, 2012
My son's body was lost at sea for 9 1/2 weeks
by: Anita

Dear I Need Opinions,
I do know exactly what you are saying. I never saw my 22 year old son, Wayne's body after he and a friend were lost at sea in January 2001. Wayne's body was found the 25th March, 9 1/2 weeks later. I was never able to see him, and it has made accepting his death so much more traumatic. Tho I know in my heart that I did the right thing in not insisting that I see his body. I remember a beautiful smiling face, not the decomposed body that the coast guard officer found on that cold March morning. I am so sorry for your loss, and as any mother who has lost an adult child, I understand your grief. The world changed the day our children died. I wish you peace.

Jan 13, 2012
Consider this...
by: Anonymous

Like all those who have written here, I am so sorry for your loss. We are never prepared for loss and certainly not for sudden loss and no matter whether we see them or not, it is so hard to accept. My thoughts about the pictures is this: I don't know how long they would be kept. There may be a time limit. If so, you may want to request the envelope and place it in your bank box after labeling it clearly so it won't be opened accidentally. Give yourself a year or more before you decide. And even then, I doubt he would look like himself after that much time and therefore, just be a gruesome picture. If you can't identify him, it may not bring closure any closer to your mind and heart. I did not see my son in death, but my imagination pictured him and I struggled with those pictures (nightmares). I prayed about them and they finally went away. It took a couple of years before the good memories began to bubble to the surface. We go through a horrific shock to our bodies and minds through something like this. It's hard but try to be patient with time. It will pick up speed in time too, rather than each day feeling like 48 hrs. God bless, GT

Jan 02, 2012
Dear Kerri, Please don't look at the pictures.
by: Sue

Hello Kerri,
My heart is so sore for you. How terrible for you to have lost your precious son. Please remember him the way he was, I can only give you my experience as an example. My beloved husband Brian died in my arms 10 months ago after a devastating, long, cruel illness which robbed him of everything,.... in the end even his wonderful mind. He died in my arms.... awoke from a coma and looked into my eyes with his warm brown ones and took his last breath. Everyone I tell this to says how lucky I was to have shared this precious moment with him but it is still the only picture of him I have in my crazed mind. All the gorgeous mind pictures of the 44 years with him seem to have been erased and replaced with this frozen snapshot in my brain at the moment when his life force went out of him. Think how it will be for you. You will NEVER be able to forget those photos, they will overlay every memory. Remember him how he was. With love Sue

Jan 01, 2012
Keep the good memories of your son alive
by: CH

I am so sorry for your loss.
I understand the inability to believe your son is really gone since you did not get the chance to see him. But even those of us that were with our loves as they took their final breath have difficulty believing that our loved one is gone forever.
Please do not look at the pictures. Remember your son as the vital young man that he was. Keep the good memories of your son alive.
Your loss is so traumatic that if you have not done so already, please seek professional help to assist you through your grief.
God Bless you in your journey.

Jan 01, 2012
im with u
by: candice

my son died instantly 3 months ago in a car accident. somehow his beautiful face was untouched and i was able to have an open casket. i was so thankful because i thought it would make it more real, more believable if i (we) saw him. it didnt. i still cant wrap my head around it. i read a quote recently..."that which is painful,we are slow to believe." its only that we loved so strongly that we feel so much pain and we may never truly accept it. we just learn to live with it. i believe and dont believe at the same time. its like my brain knows hes dead,but in my heart he is, he exists. everyone knows the heart overpowers the brain. out of disbeleif, i snuck away shortly after the accident and went to the gas station in town where his car was taken. i asked others to take me and no one would, my husband said no, you dont need to see the car, what good will it do. so i went on my own, again i thought it would bring closure. it didnt. just horrible images and painful thoughts. keep all of your memories good ones.

Jan 01, 2012
Don't do it
by: Anonymous

Do NOT view those photos. The horrid images will haunt you for the rest of your life. Please.

Jan 01, 2012
Unbearable Pain
by: Barbara

With tears in my eyes and pain in my heart, my wishes for peace are sent to you. Your experience is unique and no one else will be able to tell you how to feel. All you can do is to wait a period of time which you feel is reasonable (maybe years, who knows)for this awful pain to diminish and if it doesn't then reconsider your request to see the pictures.

I had twin boys when I was 25. One child lived 24 hours and died while the other clung to life in an incubator. When my baby died, a nun came and woke me. Dressed in the long black, hooded nun's costume she was a fearsome sight. Waking me from a drug induced sleep, she loomed over me in all that blackness and told me that one of my babies had died and the other was barely breathing. I was so stunned I could not reply. She left with no further word or comfort offered. I climbed out of my bed and started down the hall crying to her to bring my baby to me. Nurses rushed out and forced me back to my room. This was early 1951 and maternity cases were not allowed out of bed for five days. It had been just 24 hours and I was running down the hall. I cried and cried begging to be taken to my babies. No way. The surviving baby was in an incubator and I could not go in there for fear of germs.

The gist of my story is this: 60 plus years later, I still grieve for a baby who grew in my body and whom I birthed but never saw. I was in such a state of grief and hysteria for not having seen or held my child and concern because they didn't expect the other to live they couldn't get a reply as to what they should do with the body. The baby was buried in an unmarked grave and I was never told about it. I had reached a state of denial and did not ask. Until about ten years ago when I finally found where the grave was. His twin brother, his nephew, his mother and father and his aunt gathered together and we installed a lovely headstone over his grave. We found another little baby who had been born and died on the same dates was buried with him. We added his name, Baby Boy Joiner, to the headstone. I felt some relief but I must tell you even today I cannot stop grieving for that little baby whom I never saw. Find a way to honor your son, a memorial located somewhere that he loved and which you can care for and try to move on. No good will come for you to lose your ability to cope, only more pain. We are all born and we all die somehow. We all have crosses to bear. I have mine, now, you have yours. I cannot say it won't do you any good to see the pictures but I would surely wait for a year or so before I demanded to see them. It may open ever so much more hurt for you. Please be cautious. You will never forget your son, remember him as you knew him. Not in this terrible state.
I wish for you and your family peace and acceptance.

Dec 31, 2011
So sorry
by: Kim K.

Hi I haven't exactly had your situation but I can offer my advice from my situation. Five months ago I woke up and came downstairs to find the love of my life, my husband, had passed from a heart attack on the couch. I don't mean to sound gross but I'm trying to help, he had been gone long enough that rig. Had set in and when I found him I didn't know at first and I thought he was sleeping. When I tried to rouse him I realized he was gone and to this day I can't stop visualizing him laying there stiff and discolored. It has been very traumatic to me. I still cry almost daily so please know after this amount of time for you I think it's normal for us to be in so much pain. I look at it like look at all those years we got to love them and we can't just let go and go on like normal quickly. We have the right to mourn and be sad for as long as it takes. Some people won't understand why we are still so upset because they aren't going through it so don't feel guilty about where you are in the mourning process. Everyone is different. I was married for 18 years and it's going to take a lot of time to get through what I've been through and seen. I fully believe its up to you and you have that right to see the pictures but I warn you it will be impossible to get those images out of your mind and you might start grieving harder than you are now after four months. I wish I could erase what I had to see because it believe it would be easier to deal with. I just want to picture my husband in my head the way he looked the day before, handsome and smiling. I am sooo sorry you had to go through what you've been through. I hope you have God in your life to turn to and to find strength in. Please consider your options thoroughly before you go look at the pictures. You have sweet visions of your beautiful son now to think of and you don't want to ruin that. God bless you and I hope he comforts you during these difficult days and months to come. I will pray for you tonight and good luck with your decision. Take care, Kim K.

Dec 31, 2011
my thoughts
by: Joann

Kerri - my husband was killed in an accident. I did get to see him at the funeral but it didn't make it any more real for me. I still am in such denial. I honestly though agree wholeheartedly with the other lady. I think that if you see those pictures, you will never get that out of your head. Every time you close your eyes, in your dreams. I try to close my eyes and see my larry smile at me, his big beautiful smile, his booming laugh. Don't make it worse for yourself, honey. Your son would not want that for you. My thoughts with you. Joann

Dec 31, 2011
One opinion
by: Judith in Californiaj

KERRI, i feel your pain and am so sorry he died like that.

The questions to ask yourself are How strong am I to view what could be skeletal remains of my son? once the eye has seen something so traumatic it will not be allowed to un-see it. SO If you are strong and will not relive the horror of finding out go ahead and ask to see the pictures.

If not just remember him as he was and hang on to that. Yes it's hard to accept anyones death and that they are really gone. I at times still tell myself I want my husband back after 1 year and 4 months. The fact is I know he can't come back but I still want our life back and the US we used to be. I don't know how long I'll feel this way probably forever. But sometimes wish I had not watched him die but I needed to be close to him in his final moments. The visual is not pretty or consoling to me.

God give you the strength to move forward out of the haze of sadness.

Dec 31, 2011
by: Kim

After seeing a photo of my mother after autopsy, I could not get that picture out of my mind. I still see it every time I want to picture her beautiful face in my mind I get that horrible memory instead. I understand that you feel the need to see, because I felt the same way and couldn't understand why I felt so compelled. However, now I wish I hadn't done it, because it robbed me of the ability to picture her the way she was in life.

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