There’s been a lot in the news lately about deep loss and despairing grief. The peers of those seventeen young students massacred in the Parkland Florida school shooting have described some of the trauma they endured while the gunman was an active shooter. The parents have discussed their horrific nightmare in vivid terms – sleepless nights, ruminations about how their son or daughter died, triggers that elicit fond memories but also evoke helplessness and lack of hope. When someone we love dies in such an unexpected and shocking way, the survivors often experience psychological trauma in addition to the loss itself.
When we experience a loss or death as traumatic, this makes it more challenging to process and integrate our grief in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Our daily functioning is adversely impacted. We go through the motions of “going on” but may feel disconnected from our bodies, move through the day feeling like a zombie, toss and turn and find sleep elusive, and wake up remembering what can only be described as a horrible dream.
During the middle of traumatic loss, we may shut down and feel so disempowered that reaching out to others for support or for help feels impossible. Over time, we may find that professional help from a bereavement specialist is required. Interventions and treatments for traumatic loss include identifying and using a variety of coping skills and strategies, confronting rather than avoiding triggers of the loss, exploring thoughts and beliefs about the loss, processing our feelings and emotions, identifying shattered assumptions, and learning to connect with supportive others.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY
In the midst of great sorrow and loss, may I connect with my indomitable and unquenchable human spirit to help me through great suffering with ease and grace.