Grief is a process that we all go through in response to a loss. But when that loss is the result of a violent event (homicide, suicide, or accident), you may experience additional complications to an already complicated grieving process known as Traumatic Grief or Traumatic Bereavement.
Traumatic Grief involves additional reactions to your loss mingled in and likely intensifying your grief. You may experience nightmares related to the death, find yourself having images of what you imagine your loved one went through randomly pop come to you mind. You may find yourself avoiding any reminders of what happened or find yourself compelled to learn every detail of what happened. You could feel intense anger, guilt, or feel disoriented. You may feel disbelief, depressed, numb, or confused. You might have sleep problems, feel restless, withdraw from others, or think you hear their voice. You may try to keep yourself busy to distract yourself from your emotions. You could feel disorganized, feel like you are living in a dream, or feel like your life is over.
It may take you time to fully take in the loss. You might find yourself operating on “autopilot,” perhaps judging yourself for not having a strong emotional response. Your loss may gradually feel real or it may hit you all at once. You could get easily irritated at any little thing. You may have crying spells that seem to come out of nowhere or when you think of your hopes or expectations for your future together. You might get angry and blame them for some aspect of their death or get angry at God for taking them away from you.
If your loved one was murdered and the perpetrator has not been caught, you may be afraid of strangers or worry that you will be targeted. These feelings may persist even after the perpetrator is arrested. Also, on top of the usual tasks such funeral arrangements, financial issues, and settling estates, you may be dealing with the prolonged process of police investigations and the criminal justice system.
Many things can complicate your grieving such as your history of experiencing traumatic events, prior losses or emotional struggles, the nature of your relationship with your loved one, or the quality of your social support.
For strategies to help you cope with your Traumatic Grief, click here. If you have a friend who is coping with traumatic loss and you would like more information on how to help, click here.
Due to the complicated and intense nature of Traumatic Grief, you may find yourself having significant difficulties in important areas of your life. If this is the case, seek out the help of a mental health professional with expertise in Traumatic Grief.
Keep in mind, grieving in general has no time limit. Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. This is especially true with traumatic grief.
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