Is there ANYTHING more difficult than recovering from traumatic loss?
Especially the loss of a child? … not that I’ve encountered.
When you suffer that level of loss, your body and mind goes into shock. Protective numbness may take over – for awhile, allowing you to function through necessities, like a funeral. But then that numbness wears off – whether all-at-once, gradually or in stages – the true pain and reality set in… and how do you survive THAT?
Healing is not quick or easy, but it IS possible – if you allow yourself to acknowledge the loss and get the HELP that is right for you. Understand that everyone’s grief is unique but you need MULTIPLE types and levels of help with your grief. Simple quick efforts do not get you what you need to deal with trauma – and that is what grief often is – a TRAUMA.
Eileen Hiatt, LICSW and therapist, who is also a bereaved mother and grandmother believes that “Part of the grief experienced from the loss of a child, grandchild or sibling is traumatic. Bereaved families should be assessed by a professional and treated for trauma as necessary. Many therapists do not look for trauma symptoms when counseling for grief.”
According to the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) “Few things in life are as painful as the death of a loved one.” They go on to state that “Sudden shocking losses can be particularly difficult, including the death of one’s child…” and “When the death is particularly shocking in some way, there also can be symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are four groups of symptoms that indicate PTSD: (1) re-experiencing of the traumatic event as indicated by painful, intrusive thoughts or nightmares about the death; (2) avoidance or emotional numbing, as indicated by marked efforts to stay away from activities, places or things related to the loved one’s death; (3) feeling detached from others and an inability to feel positive emotions; and (4) increased persistent anxiety and physiologic arousal, as indicated by difficulty sleeping, irritability, difficulty concentrating and a tendency to become startled easily. Although many of these symptoms also are common in normal grief, if all four clusters are present it is likely that the person is also experiencing PTSD.”
ISTSS recommends the following:
- Because physical health may be affected by grief, it is important for survivors to try to maintain adequate nutrition, sleep and exercise.
- Most experts recommend that survivors confide in someone about the loss and find a support system. Through the grieving process, the many memories that come to mind of the loved one may at times seem like more than the survivor can bear.
- It can be helpful for survivors to learn ways to calm themselves. These might include such things as taking a walk, being with people or participating in a distracting activity. Some survivors find it useful to write or to read.
Having survived the loss of three children at different ages and circumstances myself, I used several different types of assistance to heal.
Through my virtual support system, I help bereaved families use these recommended methods and others to get relief. My Resource Center provides reference materials as well a introductions to specialists for deeper assistance in various areas meeting the unique needs of each individual’s grieving process and where they are in the process. I offer not only my experience but a central repository to find real help virtually and local to you.
My mission is to help families struggling with grief after the loss of a child to find hope and happiness again. I wish you all the support you need to heal and recover from your traumatic loss. This work is definitely not for sissies!