Chapter 2: When grief and trauma come together
Recognizing the signs of trauma
I never feel calm or relaxed any more. It’s like I’m waiting for something awful to happen.
It's been important for me to seek help and find a healthy way to talk about it.
Whether you might need professional help with your grief depends on how much your thoughts and feelings are impacting you. If your distress is ongoing, it could progress into more severe reactions that interfere with or disrupt your day-to-day life.
Recognizing signs of trauma is a first step toward acknowledging what is happening for you and finding the support you need. If you are concerned about your grief or trauma response, the information below may help you to decide if you would benefit from seeing a professional therapist trained in trauma and grief work.Click on the buttons below; and keep in mind that you may experience some, none, or all of these responses.
- Intrusive, involuntary, and upsetting thoughts or memories of the event
- Flashbacks or nightmares
- Acting or feeling as though the event is happening again
- Experiencing intense psychological distress or physical reactions whenever you’re reminded of the death or event (e.g., anxiety or pounding heart)
- Unable to remember the details of the event or the time frame following it
- Having blurry or fragmented memories around the event
- Trying to distract yourself from thinking about what happened by keeping busy or using alcohol, drugs, or other substances
- Avoiding places or objects that remind you of the event because they cause you distress or anxiety
- Fearing or believing that no one or nothing can be trusted, or that the world is no longer a safe place
- Feeling persistent horror, fear, guilt, or shame
- Struggling to experience positive emotions, such as love or satisfaction
- Lessened interest in participating in activities that used to be important to you
- Feeling detached from other people
- Difficulty managing or “regulating” emotions.
- Becoming overly alert or watchful, “jumpy,” or irritable.
- Having angry outbursts.
- Having great difficulty with concentration and sleep.
- Experiencing distressing physical sensations, such as chest pain or nausea.