We've all gone through a traumatic event at some point in our lives. When we were young, we attended the funerals of grandparents and great aunts and uncles, some of whom we barely knew. As we got older, we went to funerals for parents. At some point, we might have even lost a classmate or a colleague. The loss of someone young, especially a sibling or a child, feels unnatural. You have understandable feelings that the event happened too soon because they were supposed to live a long life and now the rest of their memoirs will never be written.
What Causes Loss and Grief?
While many have experienced a traumatic event, each person produces a different response. For example, some individuals may seek to avoid any memory of a traumatic event while others may relive it or exist in a state of increased arousal (i.e. having trouble sleeping because they fear it will happen again). It helps to consider why people experience strong emotions associated with events producing loss and grief. A traumatic event (or a series of events) that brings loss and grief as well as other emotions is considered such because it stresses out the affected person. Regardless of your age, gender, religion, or culture, you can suffer from a traumatic event at any time. Consequently, you will need time to heal from the event. It could be the end of a long-term partnership or the death of a loved one that troubles you but remember that you aren't alone in the recovery process because I offer supportive therapy.
What is a Traumatic Event?
It helps to understand that a traumatic event cannot be taken lightly; left unresolved, this event could affect your psychological well-being for many years. According to the CDC, "Traumatic events are marked by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury or death. Traumatic events affect survivors, rescue workers, and the friends and relatives of victims who have been involved. They may also have an impact on people who have seen the event either firsthand or on television."
Dealing With Loss and Grief
People who experience a traumatic event may go through the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What's most important is that you structure your life to process the effects of loss and grief without suffering too much from the effects of stress. This includes keeping to your routine and allowing yourself time to do things you enjoy. It's important to talk to people, including friends, relatives, clergy members, and/or counselors about the traumatic event. What you don't want to do is refuse to let yourself engage in relaxation and leisure activities. It's tremendously painful to relive a traumatic event such as a sudden death, so it's totally understandable to avoid these situations or environments as much as possible. Eventually you may feel ready to enter into that environment again if you feel the need, but some find it too painful to ever return. That being said, if a natural disaster or a terrorist event has affected you, it might not be healthy to leave TV coverage of the event playing all day in your home or workplace. Finally, some potential traumatic events are followed by a government response, including the arrival of grief counselors trained to help victims deal with a specific type of tragedy, such as a mass shooting or a hurricane.
Don't let loss or grief leave you feeling like you aren't in control of your life. You will have to create limits about what you can and cannot control during the recovery period. I help patients deal with loss and grief so they can continue working and keeping their obligations to their family. Recovery takes time, but it's a natural process patients must go through in order to move past a traumatic event. For more details on confidential counseling services, please contact me today.