No matter the circumstances, the death of a loved one is a deeply emotional and difficult experience. If the death was unexpected or violent, this can affect you even more intensely and prolong your ability to grieve. The reason for this is that, while two distinctly different experiences, trauma and grief intertwine following a traumatic death, compounding both physical and emotional symptoms and complicating reactions. The difficulty becomes two-fold: coping with the shock and nature of the death while also coping with the resulting grief.
While everyone grieves in their own way, there are some commonalities in experiences when dealing with a traumatic death:
A sense of helplessness, fear and anger
When someone dies in a way that seems meaningless or unfair, it is common to feel as if everything you once thought or believed in the world has been shattered. This can result in feelings of fear, outrage, and powerlessness which can cause you to question the good in people, as well as your faith.
Consumed by questions
Not only do those who have experienced a traumatic loss question the world as they once knew it, but they often struggle with questions to which they are unable to find answers, such as: Why did this happen? Did my loved one suffer? Was he or she afraid? or Could the death have been prevented?
Even if you are clearly not to blame, it is common to feel guilty or feel as if it is at least partially your fault. You may think back and wonder if you could have seen a sign, done something differently or change the course of events. These negative thoughts can often intensify feelings of anxiety and depression, and get in the way of your ability to grieve.
After a traumatic loss, it is essential to find ways to cope with these complicated emotions and reactions. Understand that what you’re feeling is normal. Avoid alcohol and drugs which can mask feelings and hinder your ability to deal with them. Be sure you are in a safe environment and try the best you can to avoid additional stress. Most importantly, do not try to go through this alone.
Support from others is crucial, but while family and friends are typically available directly following the death, it is not uncommon for there to be difficulty in maintaining their support long-term. As a result, you may feel isolated, misunderstood, and rushed into “moving on”.
At Sytsema, we understand that grief is prolonged with traumatic loss, and therefore, the need for support is prolonged as well. We are experienced in dealing with trauma and grief and will provide aftercare services for as long as you need them.
If you or a loved one has experienced a traumatic loss, you can find the help you need by calling us at 231-726-5210 in Muskegon or 616-842-6100 in Grand Haven. With Sytsema, you are never alone.