We form a lot of connections all throughout our lives, family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. For some of them we made connections. These relationships that we built made us who we are. They influence us or sometimes change us, for better or for worst. It is the same after the sudden death of a loved one. It can create numerous mental issues, including PTSD, especially if the loss was heart-breaking and unexpected.
Sudden bereavement is a type of trauma. While it affects everyone differently, there are factors that influence a person’s reaction:
- The person was present or not there at their loved one’s death
- If they were there, were they also hurt or at threat of an injury
- They were present but unconscious; if someone is present but unconscious for more than 15 minutes of the incident they are significantly less likely to develop PTSD than if they were present and conscious
It is also possible for someone to develop PTSD as the result of witnessing the death of a stranger; it is not just those who are bereaved that are affected.
Common responses to bereavement
In the first three months after an incident, the following reactions are common sorrow, anger, helplessness, guilt, numbness, tension, restlessness, fear, anxiety, inability to sleep, inability to concentrate, and mental avoidance of the incident
Avoidance behaviors. It is understandable that in most severe trauma that avoidance occur, but if it continues past three weeks that will be a problem. It is a strong indication that the person will likely to further develop PTSD. The person will try everything to avoid anything that might trigger the trauma. The longer they are successful to the avoidance, the more they will suffer if the trauma is triggered. Women are more proactive in seeking help, men tend more to avoid and deny issues.
Guilt is a very common response when someone’s death is sudden and tragic. Guilt has two forms:
- Survivors’ guilt- someone is guilty that they live on when their loved one is gone
-‘it should have been me’
- Guilt of omission/ permission- someone feels that their actions are the cause of their loved one’s death
-‘if only I had/ hadn’t done…’
It is still the best care for people suffering traumatic grief to treat it with therapy (sometimes called counselling) using cognitive behavioural techniques specifically personalized to the individual’s needs. This means talking through things with a therapist in a number of one-to-one sessions. In these sessions it is usually the case that the suddenly bereaved person will address the event and try to come to terms with what is known to have happened. This can be achieved through talk, writing, visiting the scene, or other methods. Bereaved person and the therapist may also talk about any unfinished business with the person who has died, the future, and find a way to think positively about it.
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