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  • Writer's pictureMaria Alda Gomez Otero

Trauma and grief

The unexpected death of a loved one can be a very traumatic experience. The effect of the loss on an individual will depend on their resilience, support network, and interpretation of reality. Your #grieving will include the following stages (not in a chronological order):

Process your trauma: You will need to process the #trauma attached to your loved one’s death. You may experience anxiety symptoms, like fast heartbeat or shallow breathing when you are faced with reminders of the event. Or you may have nightmares, flashbacks or you will relentlessly go over the details of the loss. This is a normal reaction to any traumatic event. You will need to talk about how you feel (guilt, anxiety, fear, powerlessness…) and your body needs to process the activation that this loss has created in your nervous system.

Grieve the loss of your loved one: You will need to start #mourning the loss of your loved one. You may find it useful to talk about the person to your family and friends, write a letter to this person with unfinished business, spend some time making peace with the fact that this person is no longer part of your life.

Grieve the loss of your identity: When someone you love dies, part of you dies with that person. You will never be the same person again. Your grieving must include acknowledging how much you have been affected by the event, and grieving for the person you used to be before the traumatic loss.

We are constantly changed and shaped by life events in a continuous process of losing, grieving and moving on. We are like a snake changing skin. We need to let go of our old skins and get familiar with the new ones that are growing on us. When we lose a loved one, our sense of reality changes, and we are not the same person again. We may become a person we like or we may become stuck in a person that we dislike and we can’t make peace with. Counselling and psychotherapy can help you in the process of accepting the death, processing the trauma experienced and welcoming your new you.

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