Chapter 2: When grief and trauma come together

Not being able to view the person’s body or if no body was recovered

Because I never saw her body, I kept thinking maybe she wasn’t really dead.

Sometimes it’s not possible to see the person’s body. You may have been prevented from seeing it by other family members or by a coroner’s office. You may have been advised not to or discouraged from viewing the body by police or a funeral director because of extensive injuries. Perhaps you decided to not to see the body, fearing that it would be too upsetting. In some situations, there is no body because it hasn’t been recovered.

If you didn’t see the person’s body, you may have imagined how it looked. You may have feelings of regret or anger. You may also have trouble believing that the person has died.

What may help

  • If you feel preoccupied with thoughts and feelings about the person’s body, it may help you to talk about these with someone. Depending on your situation, you might speak with your family physician, police or paramedics, or the coroner’s office.
  • Eventually, your thoughts about the body may lessen, and you may begin to remember the person as they were before their death.
  • If you have ongoing doubts about the person’s death, seek out an experienced trauma therapist.