“What happens after a flashback? What do we do after something triggers our combat veteran and he has a meltdown? When things fall apart we often don’t know how to react. As family members and caregivers, we feel helpless. We struggle for the right words to say. We wonder if we should say or do something or if it is just better to do nothing? Our reaction could escalate the situation and then what?”
While visiting my elderly Mother, Marcella, last week, I was reminded of the subject of PTSD “flashbacks.” I am well aware of this experience, and the nighmares as well, from my own childhood toxic culture at home. My Dad, Vernon, a US Navy WWII & Korean War combat veteran, brought the war home to his family, including Mom. At age 94 she still has flashbacks when we visit. This time she asked me, “why was Dad always angry with me?” She then recalled the incidents of knife throwing by my Dad at times during an angry outburst. I used to just listen and get a tad angry myself before researching and writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story. This time, I explained to her that Dad wasn’t really mad at her, he was angry because of his experience during the war. I have had peace with this since last year for the first time following the publication of my book. I’ll never know if my response to Mom this time at this stage in her life gave her some peace of mind. I really hope and pray she can have peace now at the end of her life. It is sad, but we do know more now how to address PTSD, and the above link provides a resource to help mitigate and manage the “flashback” challenge among those who suffer the symptoms of PTSD.
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story