Chapter 2: When grief and trauma come together

Receiving the news

I've been there
Susan shares the story of her son Lee's death by murder.(3:22)Video transcript

One of our workers came into the barn and said there had been a motorcycle accident on the highway and the driver had been killed. I fell to my knees because I knew who he was talking about.

The way that you learned about the death can be a source of trauma. The news may have come as a shock, even if the person was ill and expected to die. If a healthcare professional or police officer informed you of the death in a way that felt insensitive, uncaring, or judgmental, your memories and associated feelings can stay with you for a long time. You might also worry or have lingering questions about how the person who died was treated.

If you learned of the death through social or news media, you may have been deeply shocked or “caught off guard,” especially if you were at work or in a public place, without personal support.

What may help

  • Seek out a supportive friend or family member who is willing to hear your story without judging or criticizing you. You may need to tell it many times.
  • You may wish to make an inquiry or formal complaint with a professional or regulating body if you feel that someone behaved unprofessionally or inappropriately.
  • If social or news media has become involved, consider how you might limit your exposure to them, as well as how you might want to manage any future interactions with them. You might want to ask a friend or family member to assist you with this.