Twisted Grief

November 22, 2012
Have you ever made a horrible mistake and wondered if the pain would ever go away? Tiffany was 16 when she was driving and accidentally killed a 7-year-old boy. She sees his parents for the first time in 13 years. Do they forgive her? Can she finally move past the pain? Then, Cassie says she's been struggling with enormous grief ever since her fiancé had a seizure and died right in front of her. She says her mother makes her feel worse with her mean comments.







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TiffanyThe victim, StuartTiffany's mom, KathyStuart's parents, Doris and DanCassieLisa

A Premonition

In late June of 1999, Tiffany, 16, awoke from a nightmare during which she says she had hit a little boy with her car and killed him. A week later, on July 4th, while driving, Tiffany says she “had a slight feeling” to put on her seat belt and be careful of her speed. “About five seconds later, it sounded as if someone was in the backseat of the car yelling at me to watch the speedometer and to buckle up. I figured at this point, I might as well just do it, it couldn’t hurt,” Tiffany explains. A short time later, a little boy, Stuart, ran into the street, and her car struck and killed him. The incident was ruled an accident, and 13 years have passed, but Tiffany says she cannot stop reliving that day and feeling like a murderer.
 

Tiffany recounts the accident and shares how it’s still affecting her today.

Dr. Phil shares his concern that Tiffany is experiencing something more serious than grief.

Stuart’s parents, Doris and Dan, remember that tragic day. “Stuart asked if he could go across the road and throw a pinecone into the stream, so the other kids could see it coming past them,” Doris recalls. “He looked both ways, my sister looked both ways, and they didn’t see anything. Then my sister looked again, and she saw a car coming. I heard someone say, 'Stuart's been hurt.' I didn’t know yet what had happened, but he was lying on the ground. I remember people crying, people screaming. I think I was screaming on the inside and not actually hearing it,” she says tearfully.

Dan says he knew his son was gone when he saw the EMTs trying to revive him. “One of the regrets that I had at that moment is I wish I had held him while he was still warm,” he says sadly.

“As I was touching his face and his arm, I remember thinking, how quickly they turn cold,” Doris says, struggling with her emotions.

Dan says he remembers Tiffany crying at Stuart’s funeral and repeatedly saying how sorry she was. “When you have kids, you think, how could you ever survive the loss of one of them? I can still hear him call. The trauma so tremendous, I can’t even describe it,” he says, his voice shaking.

“I remember thinking, how do you do this?” Doris says. “You do what you have to do. You do the next thing.”

For the first time since his funeral 13 years ago, Tiffany faces Stuart’s parents. They share the unique way they dealt with their grief the first week after their son’s death. 

“If you don’t forgive yourself, then your son will pick up the tab for that.”


Dr. Phil tells Tiffany, “Let me tell you, how unfair it would be if Stuart’s legacy was the pain in your life. Set him free of that. You owe that to him, so he looks down and says, ‘My legacy is not the destruction of this woman’s heart and family.’”

Doris agrees. “That is perfectly said. Thank you.”

“We’ve so wished you well through the years,” Dan tells Tiffany with a smile.
 
“Honestly, Tiffany, not in one [millisecond] have I ever had a bit of anger. Never,” Doris says.

“It is not a dishonor to him for you to move on,” Dr. Phil says.

Doris and Dan present a gift to Tiffany. It is a plaque that reads: God is too wise to ever make a mistake and too kind to ever do anything cruel. Tiffany remembers Doris saying this to her within hours of the accident.




Struggling to Heal

Cassie says she's been struggling with enormous grief ever since her fiancé had a seizure and died right in front of her. She says her mom, Lisa, is not supportive and will oftentimes make mean comments about her inability to move on from her loss.

“You need to zip it ... And if you can't be supportive of her, butt out.”

Dr. Phil explains why it’s important for Cassie to find a way to heal her grief.