Impact of finding dead body of younger sibling at young age
My father found the body of his two year old brother, in a puddle when he was nine. The coroners cause of death was accidental drowning. I am wondering the effect this may have on somebody during later years. My dad doesn't refer much to the personal events which happened to him earlier in life, but recently said that he never got any counselling after the event and how things may have been different if he had. After attempting to find papers on the subject and being unsuccessful, I would be grateful if anyone could refer me to some. Alternatively, if anyone has had similar experience and would be willing to share thoughts it would be appreciated. More details can be divulged of my fathers circumstance if necessary. The ultimate goal is to develop my understanding in order to increase his life satisfaction and improve overall happiness.
What your father experienced was a childhood trauma. The effects can depend on what he did to deal with it. Did he ever talk with anyone? Did he have a support system? How was he treated after it happened? As far as resources go…If I give you links or papers, then that would be promoting certain services. I try to stay away from that when answering on this forum. I am not a counselor, but here are some comments (my two cents, if you will):
There are things that he could think, feel, say, or do that could stem from that experience. He may or may not be aware if it. He could have certain triggers if he had severe problems dealing with it. He could develop certain phobias or routines as a result of how the situation impacted him. If he encountered a similar environment or event as the one he experienced in the past, then the feelings he had back then could resurface.
He may want to take time to see if there is anything specific that triggers thoughts and feelings related to his brother’s death. He would have to then find ways to positively cope with those triggers. For instance, does your father have a fear of water? Does he develop profound anxiety about certain family situations? If so, then he would have to find a way to deal with the fears and emotions he experiences.
It is possible for past traumas to affect a person’s relationships with others. He could have become more withdrawn or cautious in his personality because of it. He could have acted as if it didn’t affect him as much as it affected others, which would not be good either.
How willing is he to actually talk about what happened? You do not want to force him to talk about it, but you can let him know you are there for him if he needs someone to confide in about this. Sometimes it helps just to know that you are willing to listen to his thoughts and reactions to what happened.
What are his usual outlets of expression? Does keep a journal?…Does he have hobbies or talents that could help him in terms of expression? Whenever he thinks about this past event, he should find a way to release the emotions if he has bottled them up for so long. Alternatively, he could find a safe hobby to go to if thinking about the past gets too much for him.
Another suggestion is to see if he would be willing to discuss the past with a support group, forum, or counseling service. He could always post here as a method of catharsis. Hope this helps you.