8730 Mitchell Rd
PO Box 910
La Plata, MD 20646-0910
Grieving is a normal, natural process following any loss. There are many kinds of losses: loss because of a death of a loved one, loss of a pet, loss of a job, loss of a home, loss of one's independence due to aging issues and/or illness--or through an accident. With each of these losses there will be grieving. With a traumatic loss (usually a sudden, unexpected, or violent loss), the grief becomes more complicated. People often describe it as feeling like “they are going crazy without a road map of how to do it.” Grief and traumatic grief will be experienced differently by each person.
Grieving a loss of a loved one because of death is probably the most common loss. Whether death is anticipated or traumatic, it will shatter the world of the survivor. It’s a loss that doesn’t make sense as the survivor tries to make sense and create meaning from the event. Family members may search for answers and even confront the fact that life is NOT fair. Bad things DO happen to good people and the world doesn’t feel safe.
When the belief about the world and how it functions is shattered, it compounds the tasks of grieving. One’s spiritual belief system may no longer work which becomes another loss experienced by the bereaved.
In the initial days, weeks, and months, the individual may go from periods of numbness to intense emotions in brief time periods. It can take up to two years or more for people to go through the grieving process and adapt to a major loss. When the death is traumatic, the time period may be longer. Over time, the intensity and frequency of the painful periods does diminish.
People may feel worse a year or more after the death. The numbness that helped protect them in the early months is gone and the full pain of the loss is very real. Family and friends may have gone back to their own lives, and not be as supportive as they were.
Over the years, holidays and special family events may increase the feelings of grief. If it was a traumatic death and there is a similar traumatic event experienced, people may be re-traumatized or feel they are reliving their own loss. If there is involvement with lawsuits or the justice system, this can cause upsurges of grief during the entire course of that involvement. Counseling is available if these things occur and coping becomes more difficult.