Chapter 2: Why your grief may be different
If you have experienced trauma
It’s very complicated. There was all the suffering before he died, so we were already exhausted. And then there was the death. Sometimes we barely have the energy to put one foot in front of the other. There’s not enough recognition for that kind of long-term suffering and stress.The trauma and physical impact of those years was terrible. My brother was not treated well by healthcare or other family members. He was not treated like he was a valuable person who deserved kindness and love.
A traumatic response can result from any situation that exceeds your ability to cope and leaves you feeling overwhelmed or out of control. Even if you had been expecting or thought you were “prepared” for the person’s death, you may still experience shock and disbelief. You may also feel traumatized by the long-term impact of what you witnessed in the person’s life, such as hardships, illness, injuries, or bodily harm.
Trauma affects everyone differently. You may or may not have felt traumatized by this person’s life or death, or you may have found ways to deal with trauma such that it hasn’t stayed with you.
Click on the box below to view different causes and responses to trauma.
What may help
- If you’re having a very intense and overwhelming response to this death, keep in mind that this is a normal reaction to something unexpected and very difficult.
- Acknowledge thoughts and feelings to yourself and to supportive people in your life.
- Try to find a balance between focusing exclusively on intense thoughts and feelings and allowing yourself to be distracted by pleasant or relaxing activities.
- Notice activities or people that seem more comfortable for you, and make an effort to do those things or spend time with those people.
- It may seem that every single moment of every day is intensely painful. Try to observe how your grief changes, even minutely, throughout the day.
- Be as gentle, kind, and patient with yourself as you can. See if you can slowly spend time with anything you’ve been avoiding. Start with whatever has been least distressing and work your way up to what is more difficult.
- Some people find that regular breathing exercises or meditation techniques can be helpful for them. Try a guided session to see if this is right for you.
If you or others around you are concerned that you may be “stuck” in intense feelings, it is important to get specialized support. A trained counsellor or therapist can use carefully structured strategies to help you cope with distressing thoughts, feelings, and memories.