Dorothy Womack


Flashbacks occur when the brain is overloaded with information which is too traumatic for it to sort through - so it puts it aside and then BOOM!! Months, maybe years later, things start coming back to life, literally!! A flashback differs from a memory in that you usually are aware that you are remembering something which occurred in the PAST - You remain secured in TODAY and only remember YESTERDAY. However, a true FLASHBACK takes you back in time to the PAST, and you are stuck there just like it is really TODAY!! Usually they do not last very long, however, they can be very frightening and brutal if you are not aware that they will pass. If you have endured and witnessed a great deal of trauma in caring for your loved one, you will find you experience more of these flashbacks after they are gone from this world. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU ARE LOSING YOUR MIND!! This is a pretty normal occurrence for those who deal with prolonged, traumatic stress situations - much as with the POAs in Vietnam - is also known as 'post traumatic stress disorder'. Except we, as caregivers, receive no compensation or understanding for our plight!! But there is some value in knowing that what you are experiencing does not indicate a break from mental reality, nor that you are falling apart - Your mind is simply beginning to process all those experiences which it tucked away until you were more able to deal with and handle their realities. Some people have very few flashbacks, especially if they are more positive oriented, can be detached somewhat in their caregiving and lead an active life after the passing of their loved one. Those who are like me, however, find it very difficult to navigate through these flashbacks, as they occur without any warning and can happen weeks to months apart. This is the mind's way of healing itself, and if you simply go with the flow, the flashback will end and the peace of God will replace it. I know this for a fact, having lived it now for almost four years since my own mother's passing. My best advice to you is to realize this is a FLASHBACK, not a BREAKDOWN, that it will PASS and you will be OKAY...


Flashes of images come back to me
Time most important were those times when we
Grew closer in Spirit - not looking ahead
But lived in today and in all that God had

For us both to do daily - in kindness for Him -
We walked forth together - to sink or to swim -
Each day we grew closer, in Spirit, obeyed
We looked straightforward to a much brighter day

When all would be peaceful - Contentment at last
Although it meant you would be gone in a flash ---
I knew I'd be left with a void in my life
But I wanted you free from all sorrow and strife

Time has moved swiftly since you've gone away
I've changed on the inside most every day ---
I hold to this truth: That wherever GOD is
You're walking with Him - So I don't mind the flashes

For these are reminders of what's passed away
There is no reality to keep me in sway ---
I'm grateful God raised you up from the ashes
And me? Well I'm fine - In those days without flashes...

Copyright © 1999 Dorothy Womack


One Thousand One Hundred and Fifty Two Days.....
Your leaving brought changes in so many ways
Inside, I'm no longer the person I was
For most all my life - This is directly because

My life was completely rearranged, totally
In caring for you, I finally found ME ----
I miss quiet times when we would reflect
On our history and the people we'd met

Things we had done - places we'd seen
Wonderful mysteries: hidden, serene
Would one day unfold before my very eyes
As I watched you leaving - There was no surprise

But only the blessing of knowing where you
Were going, and dwelling - Of course, knowing Who
Would keep you forever, safe in His loving arms
So I'd have assurance that you'd not know harm....

Yet, still, all this time has just drifted away
I've not found my bearings, since then till today
Often, in stillness, I remember your ways ----
Even now.....
One Thousand One Hundred and Fifty Two Days.......

Copyright © 2000 Dorothy Womack,
contributing writer for Today's Caregiver.
Used by permission of the author.

Background Copyright © 2000 Brenda S. Parris

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