These are losses where there has been no time to prepare for the loss
Traumatic loss is sudden and unexpected, often the result of horrific and frightening circumstances, such as accidents, natural disasters, terrorist attacks or suicide. These types of losses can often bring special problems – these are split into four types below:
Trauma – this is the thoughts “I cannot believe that it’s true.” “I cannot get what’s happened out of my head.” These are losses where there has been no time to prepare for the loss and often where we cannot be present or to hold or touch the person who has been lost. This makes it more difficult to make the death real. Some people may go to big lengths to avoid reminders because it is too painful, shutting themselves away at home, avoiding talking about what has occurred or by distracting themselves with lots of activity.
This reaction is fairly common and natural and over time this will dissipate. Sometimes in a severe form it may become so overwhelming that it then becomes known as Post Traumatic Disorder. This stage can be helped by talking it over with support until the images and sounds become easier to live with. In severe cases, where the images and sounds are preventing you grieving or getting on with life, a consultation via GP for a psychologist may be necessary.
Grieving will take as long as it takes and there is no time scales for this
Grieving – “I feel numb or nothingness.” This is normal and is the brain’s way of protecting us from mental pain and agony that may overwhelm us. This may also present as confusion, being unable to think clearly. This numbness is ‘disassociation’ and that is the brain’s way of enabling us to keep going enabling us to continue searching for a lost person or assisting in any rescue of others involved in a disaster/accident. This only becomes an issue if it continues after the incident is over.
“I cannot stop crying.” Grief can last longer than people may expect it to. Grieving will take as long as it takes and there is no time scales for this. Each of us is unique in our grieving and each loss will be different even for the same person experiencing the loss. We need to be aware that it may take some time to process the loss and not expect too much from ourselves. There are some types of grief that become what is classed as ‘stuck’. This often stems from us being too hard on ourselves and a need to punish ourselves. The thoughts of “Why should I be happy now that he/she is dead?” This often comes from the loss of a child or if the bereaved person blames themselves for the death or may be not being there for the deceased person.
In a severe form it may become so overwhelming that it is known as Post Traumatic Disorder.
Suddenly due to the disaster or incident the world is a dangerous place to be
Anger and self reproach – Anger is a natural and normal aspect of grief. In the case of traumatic loss this is often directed towards the perpetrators of the loss, the authorities or often just the people nearest to hand. We must remember that anger can be used for good if it is controlled and released in a manner where it can be directed where it can help rather than harm or hurt others. If you have had an angry outburst, by recognising this and apologising to them, they are sure to understand.
Issues of change – Suddenly due to the disaster or incident the world is a dangerous place to be. Fear can cause the body symptoms of tense muscles, sweating, racing heart beat, sweating and sleeplessness. These are all natural reactions and are from the fight or flight reactions which would have helped us to stay alive in situations where there was danger in times gone by. In the modern world they are more likely to be seen as symptoms of illness as they are not needed. Being aware that fear is a perfectly natural reaction as are the symptoms noted above.