Chapter 2: When grief and trauma come together

Lack of information

I spent hours on the phone, trying to get information. The police didn't get to my door until more than three hours after it happened.

Not knowing what happened or why can be very troubling and might lead you to become preoccupied with finding answers. Even if the person was seriously ill for some time, their death may have come as a surprise or shock to you. You may wonder what happened or “why now?” This can occur whether or not you were present at their death.

The details of some deaths, such as homicides, cannot always be shared or may be unknown due to ongoing investigation. Autopsies can also delay your getting information, but reading an autopsy report can sometimes reveal details that were previously unknown, which can be traumatizing.

What may help

  • Even if you can’t find out all the details or have all of your questions answered, there may be people who can give you some information. Most physicians, nurses, police officers, and paramedics will share whatever information they can with you.
  • If investigations or autopsies are delaying the release of information, reach out to supportive friends or family, a faith leader, a counselling professional, or your family physician. While they may not have the answers you’re looking for, they can offer compassionate listening and help you to find ways to live with your questions.