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sudden traumatic death 

Coping with Traumatic Death - Homicide.jpg

excerpted from: 
"Coping with Traumatic Death: Homicide - A book to help you in your time of need" 

by permission of Bob Baugher, PhD and Lew Cox, Victim Advocate         4 minute read
pages 2, 4, 36 + 45; Caring People Press. Copyright 2015.


When someone you love is murdered, your emotions become intensified to a greater extent than you could ever imagine. You may feel as though you have been thrown into a tailspin. Shock, disbelief, anger, denial, and guilt seem to know no bounds. Some people feel a loss of faith in both God and humankind. You may feel stigmatized and suffer a loneliness you have never known, all the while feeling confused and wondering why this horrible tragedy occurred. Overwhelmed and horrified, you may feel that you are losing your sanity. You may feel depressed, impatient with yourself and others, and at times you may feel as though you have lost control of your emotions. The only truth we can tell you at this moment is you will not feel this way forever.


Right now, you are likely in shock, meaning that much of what has been happening does not seem real. People in shock say things such as:

“I can’t believe this is happening.”

“It feels like a bad dream – a nightmare.”

“I feel like I’m just going through the motions.”

“I feel like I’m in a fog.”

“It’s like I’m on automatic pilot.”

“For brief periods of time I catch myself forgetting what has happened.”

It’s OK to be in shock. It is a normal reaction of your body and mind to the overwhelming events that have taken place in your life. Your job right now—as horrible as it sounds—is to take what comes, one moment at a time and just do what you need to do. As time goes on you will begin to feel less like you are in a fog. This may take days, weeks, or months. When this begins to happen, you may find that the harsh, gut-wrenching reality is beginning to hit you—and it hurts—it hurts more than words can describe.


Listed below are ways that people have copied with the sudden death of a loved one. Certainly some of the behaviors involve escape from or avoidance of the harsh reality of the death are unhealthy when used in extreme*. 


Coping Behaviors:

. Talking with someone who is a good listener

. Talking to your loved one

. Crying

. Sleeping with the clothing of your loved one

. Wearing the clothing of your loved one

. Reading books related to your loss

. Joining a support group and sharing your story with people who have been through similar experiences 

. Finding a good grief counselor

*Using work as an escape

*Taking off time from work

*Using sleep as an escape

*Imagining that your loved one is away

*Reading books or watching television as a distraction


Unhealthy Grief Reactions:

Because the range of normal grief is so broad, only three of the most noticeable unhealthy grief reactions will be addressed:


Anger reactions --
that hurt another person or yourself, such as yelling, screaming, and becoming physical. It's OK to be angry, but do not let it get to the point where it becomes hurtful or displaced.


Extreme denial reactions --
constantly believing that your loved one is still alive or not mentioning your loved one's name again.


Escape through addictions -
alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, gambling, overspending.



Be patient and kind with yourself. Recognize progress in your grief when it occurs. When it is not the first thing you think about when you wake up, that is progress. Don't be frightened by this. This progress does not mean that your are forgetting your loved one. As we said before, you will never forget the life your loved one lived. When the death, the murder, and your grief are not the last things you think about before falling asleep, that is progress. When you notice that there are times that you are not thinking about the pain you have been through, that is progress. As the time intervals increase when you are not thinking about this tragedy that, too, is progress.

Murder is such a frightening word that we avoid saying it. Instead we may use the term "lost" as in the phrase, "We lost our loved one." It is important to recognize the death as a murder. To acknowledge that the person was murdered is to reinforce the harsh truth of what took place. it helps others to know that a crime has taken place in the death of that person. It avoids any misunderstanding of how your loved one died.



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