Complicated grief and how memorial jewelry helps
Abuse leads to death of father: son has complicated grief
Dealing with death is hard. Painful. Impossible, even. Sometimes, there are more circumstances in place that make handling death and accepting what has happened particularly challenging. When Jeremiah lost his father, his grieving period turned into about a year’s worth of complicated grief because of the unique situation surrounding his dad’s death.
Jeremiah shares his story of loss and all the terrible things surrounding the death of his father which led to his period of complicated grief. He will also share his advice on how to handle complicated grief. He also shares how memorial jewelry has helped him get through it.
Background on Jeremiah’s dad
“If you want to get away with murder, all you have to do is move to Paulding County.”
There was a conspiracy theory in the county where Jeremiah’s dad died. Coincidence the caregiver who is responsible for taking his dad’s life moved to Paulding just a couple of years before his premature death.
There was a famous cold case from 1981 that happened in Paulding, Ohio. A television show, “Cold Justice” decided to do a segment on the case in which they insinuated a man was guilty for the crime. The production made quite the impression and resulted in the man being arrested on murder charges. Turns out, he was not guilty, and once acquitted, the man sued the TNT over the show. You can see the entire implications of the case in a journal here or more information about the situation here.
During the episode, the narrator pointed out the alarming rates of unsolved murder cases, and murder cases in general, that occur in Paulding, Ohio. Those trends have not changed since the show originally aired, considering just last year that in one month’s timespan, a young adult shot his older brother and there was a body that washed up in the river in Paulding both in August 2019. It’s also important to take into consideration that this is a small, mostly rural county with a population of roughly 18,000.
Jeremiah’s dad Trey ended up being another victim to die in Paulding, Ohio
Trey called out for help. Neighbors said they heard a man scream inside of the house. He held the hand of his sister at one point and said he needed to escape. He said that his caregiver, Ella, was hurting him. A child heard him say he was hungry while Ella denied him food. Terry experienced all these horrible things within just a few short weeks before he died. After one brutal month of extreme starvation, the caregiver for Jeremiah’s father, Trey, successfully ended his life.
A woman lived with Jeremiah’s father for many years who was not a romantic partner, but a domestic partner who stayed there to help him around the house. Her name was Ella.
When Trey became critically ill with congestive heart failure, it became clear that her intentions for him were negative. After repeated police called well-visit checks for her failure to take him to the hospital for care following direct orders for the doctors to emergency calls where he was in bad state, to mistakes with his medications, and calls to adult social services - five years after Trey was first diagnosed with CHF, he died due to gross neglect and abuse at the hands of a caregiver.
Abuse ignored and patient code status thrown out the window
At the end of the month of torture, Trey was life flighted to the hospital because he could not breathe. Family members say that his caregiver waited to the very last moment until he was no longer breathing at all to call for help. He was always a full code and never wanted to be a DNR, even though the doctors tried to persuade him at every visit - as such - he was given emergency treatment and put on a ventilator.
Two days later, more than 4,000 miles away, his son Jeremiah sat helpless as the family decided to pull life support, almost immediately. His father was not “dying” as the doctors claimed, but was severely dehydrated and starved as accounted by multiple witnesses for at least one month’s time. Proof of starvation was also evidenced by the drastic 60-pound weight loss Trey displayed in less than two months and lab values which were consistent with dehydration. For some reason, no one wanted to deal with the truth and everyone believed he was dying from his condition.
Upon arrival, the story about the mistreatment from the caregiver did not come out because she was the one giving the medical information. Bedsores documented on his body clearly showed the neglect.
Did the VA hospital want him dead, too?
“His organs are failing. Shutting down. This man is going to die.”
These words were spoken immediately by the doctor at the VA hospital in front of one of Jeremy’s brothers when his dad arrived at the hospital. He is actively dying they said. Later, the story unraveled that he was severely dehydrated and malnourished. The doctors said initially, you see he has no urine, his kidneys are failing, the kidney lab values are high. He is dying. Shutting down. Let’s get rid of ventilator. Ok… Well from 4,500 miles away in Tarija Bolivia, Jeremiah screamed at the nurse over the phone after hearing this report:
“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? TAKING HIM OFF LIFE SUPPORT? HE IS A FULL-CODE!! His organs are not shutting down, he needs fluid, nourishment, and his regular medications she has withholds from him!”
To this day, Jeremiah will never understand why the hospital and family were all in such a rush to terminate treatment two days after being in the hospital.
Jeremiah and his wife used to care for Trey
Jeremiah’s wife was a nurse who used to care for his father. Their daughter was still studying. Trey trusted her with all his medical needs, which is why he once moved to live with them in Bolivia where his heart function improved from a critical level of 24% when he arrived (with a lung full of fluid no one told them about that was detected two months prior).
After a week in the hospital and three liters of fluid were drained from one lung in a week’s time, Trey was better. A couple of months later, his heart function was up to 35% before he tragically left Bolivia to go return home to the caregiver who was mistreating him already.
Jeremiah warned him, “Dad, if you go back and she is going to kill you.”
Trey had premonition she would harm him
Trey told his son at the hospital his pacemaker wires were cut with a knife. The nurses were baffled and they never could figure out what happened. He told his son, “I always knew it was Ella that cut my wires.”
Trey also confided that he was afraid of the woman and what she might do one day. He overheard the caregiver and her friend talking about insurance money from when the husband would die one day, and Trey joked, but seriously said, “makes me wonder what she says about me.”
Police and medical staff failed the family
Fast forward to two days before he died. While laying in the hospital a vent and sedated, the family had Trey’s code status changed to do not resuscitate (DNR) and made up their minds he must be dying because one doctor said so. Hospital staff were planning on terminating everything that day. Lo and behold - his catheter bag was full of urine. This is something they said would not happen because his organs were “mush”.
His labs were returning to normal. Turns out his organs were not shutting down! He was not dying. In fact, as stated by witnesses, he was simply starved and dehydrated for a month and once the fluids made their way through his system, his kidneys were functioning.
Family members start buzzing Jeremiah on the phone in South America. “We are with you now!” They exclaimed. “You were right, his kidneys are working! His organs are not mush! We are going to the hospital now to make sure they give him his meds.” Last Jeremiah heard is that they were going to restart his father’s meds and take out the vent.
A fateful phone call came through
When his father left Bolivia, he did not speak to him again. Jeremiah warned his dad if he returned to that caregiver, she would kill him one day. In just one year after being back in Ella’s care, his 34% heart function (less than 30% is considered critical) was down to 15%.
Daily meds and some walking are needed to maintain or improve this number, and he received neither in addition to the abuse and humiliation he was subject to. He died less than three years after leaving under the care of Jeremiah and his wife in Bolivia.
During those three years after he left, Jeremiah could never call his dad without the caregiver answering first, so he asked many of his brothers and sisters to please call him next time they visited dad. He would ask the same day or day before his siblings would go see him. No call.
Finally, a sister called and put dad on the line just after Jeremiah heard the family was going to continue giving his dad life-supporting medications and measures. Jeremiah thought he was getting the vent out, restarting meds, and getting better. He finally talked to his dad after three long years and all the siblings in the room said that Trey made expressions and could tell it was Jeremiah’s voice.
Then his sister came back on the phone. Something wasn’t right. Her voice was cracking. They were terminating the vent but not giving him his meds back. Not restarting care. They were going to sedate him to death. Said he will not survive without the vent. He might not even survive getting a trach in (even though it’s routinely done in ambulances by untrained tech and not a huge medical procedure) but that was the story.
A disgraceful send-off accompanies disgraceful death
They killed him. The family members. The doctors. Jeremiah was helpless from so far away. It was unsettling. He lived for nearly 48 hours after they pulled the vent even though the nurses said he would not likely last six. He only died with the assistance of heavy sedatives and the termination of care of his condition.
It didn’t end there. Trey was a military veteran. Agent orange exposure was responsible for his lung condition that lead to CHF. Furthermore, Trey also dealth with post-traumatic stress disorder because of combat, which haunted him. Military destroyed his life. He was always clear about his and that he did not want a military funeral or the shots fired. Trey was clear to all his kids that he did NOT want any guns fired at his funeral.
Oh but they were. Not only did they fire shots, but the eldest son who was a preacher, did a great sermon on how you will go to hell for not agreeing with his religion. It’s a story within itself, but when his son became a preacher, Trey never gave him his blessing for multiple reasons that had to do with the church.
His preacher son never saw eye to eye on religion with his father, even though his father had the faith it takes to move mountains. Everyone who ever met Trey would tell you right away how much faith the man had in God. Because that faith did not involve putting a man over him in a position as a preacher, his son in fact, and believe the same as his son, the preacher son did a wonderful sermon on how people that do not believe like he does, go to hell, the entire time implying because Trey believed in God differently from his son, that he would go to hell.
Luckily, an aunt live streamed this to Jeremiah so he gets to remember the rest of his life how everything from the death to the funeral was unjust. Mind you, this is the same eldest brother who worked with the doctors to wrap up the hospital stay so quickly in fact, that his loving wife had to call him and beg to the preacher brother, just slow down and don’t make any hasty decisions.
Traditionally, people wait until one is declared braindead to terminate life support. Trey just arrived at the hospital, was 100% mentally with it upon arrival, clearly kept himself a full-code for a reason, and the eldest son changed him to DNR. Meanwhile, the caregiver, Ella, was withdrawing the final 10 grand from his bank account while he was in the hospital on life support.
The bank did nothing. The cops did nothing. Looks like there were also life insurance policies taken out and everything he had to his name was slowly drained from his account without his authorization over one year. When Trey realized most of his money was gone, he was upset and told the entire family all his money was missing. About 45 days later, he was dead.
Grief gets complicated sometimes
How could Jeremiah find any closure in that? With grief, you can’t sometimes. When these types of “conditions” surround the death, it can surely make the grieving process difficult. Which stage is first? Anger? Shock?
Sometimes distance can be a blessing. For Jeremiah, it was in this situation. Distancing himself from the harsh reality of what just actually went down to his father who had not even reached the age of 70. It’s been a couple of years now and the complicated grief is now starting to subside. However, acceptance might be something that could take considerable time and work to achieve. Last but not least, Jeremiah had memorial jewelry created, which helped him greatly. Making diamond memorial jewelry doesn't work for anyone, but Jeremiah found comfort in it.
Complicated grief looks different for everyone
This is just one story of how grief affected one person’s life. Anyone going through complicated grief could display the following:
- Maladaptive thoughts: these are ones that are often not factual and can be catastrophizing. Racing thoughts are common for people dealing with complicated grief.
- Dysfunctional behaviors: these can become dysfunctional when they are the only way the person knows how to deal with painful emotions. These include smelling the person’s clothes, listening to their voice, looking at pictures, etc.
- Inadequate emotion regulation: rather than giving themselves time to grieve balanced with periods of rest, people with complicated grief often focus on things that cause emotional reactivation.