What is it?
Generally, traumatic loss is brought on by a sudden, unexpected death involving suicide, homicide, accidents, unknown medical conditions, etc. This is a death that we were not able to anticipate and “get our mind around it” before it happened. It can feel as though we have been in an explosion. Our ears ring, we feel strangely disoriented, what was our day to day life can feel “unreal.” Shock is very present and sometimes helps us get through immediate decisions and tasks that need to be handled right away.
Why is this so hard?
We did not know this was going to happen and that seems to be the most challenging aspect for people as they grieve a traumatic death. The circumstances and what happened are the aspects that may take time to even come to grips with. People may need to tell the story of what happened over and over again, as though they are trying to make it real and integrate what happened into their life.
What kind of help is available?
Working with a therapist who specializes in traumatic loss can be invaluable. Techniques such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) and others can help when people have witnessed horrifying events that can replay over and over, making it difficult to function. Support groups of people who have experienced similar losses can affirm our feelings and give us practical and concrete suggestions from others who have walked a similar path. Reading stories of how others have coped can inspire us and affirm what we already know.