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February 6, 2023

What is Traumatic Grief?

Losing someone suddenly or not being present at time of their death may result in feelings of helplessness or guilt. Traumatic grief can occur within hours, days, weeks or even months following the event.

Traumatic Grief Can Also Be Experienced at the Same Time as Other Kinds of Grief.

  • Ambiguous loss. Some forms of grief and loss do not provide a clear resolution. This may cause grief over a loved one’s death to impact us more profoundly and lead to feelings of anger, regret or misunderstanding.
  • Anticipatory grief. Can be common in both terminally ill patients preparing for end-of-life and loved ones who will soon be experiencing the loss of someone close to them.

Traumatic Grief Symptoms:

  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Avoidance of thoughts and activities related to the trauma
  • Repetitive thoughts and flashbacks from the traumatic event
  • Loss of appetite
  • Emotional numbness
  • Anxiety

Ways to Cope With Traumatic Grief

  • Find support. It’s important to allow yourself to feel pain and grief. Remember to be patient with yourself and be open to accepting help. You can expect the intensity of your grief to vary throughout the traumatic grief process. Speaking with people in your support system is a good way to cope with your feelings.
  • Traumatic grief therapy. Through early intervention after a loss, you can learn how to discover emotions surrounding traumatic grief and how to cope with them. This can prevent increased negative emotions from impacting your life, long after the traumatic event has occurred.
  • Focus on routine and structure. By following a routine and building structure, you can increase feelings of stability and safety. Prioritizing mealtimes, a sleep routine and doing things you enjoy can help regulate your emotions as you go throughout your day.
  • Take care of yourself. Be sure to find activities that nurture your own self-care, such as meditation, art therapy or journaling. There are several ways to cope with traumatic grief and every individual can experience grief differently.

When to Seek Help With Grief

You should not underestimate how your grief affects you. It may be time to seek help if you find that grief is interfering with your ability to take care of yourself or process your emotions. Grief support is available from hospice bereavement services, professional counselors, funeral homes, hospitals, faith communities, online resources and more.

St. Croix Hospice provides bereavement support as you navigate your own personal grief journey and can help find other available resources in your community. Contact us 24/7 at 855-278-2764.

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