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Traumatic Loss

Hearing your loved one has died in an accident or other sudden death can throw you into despair and darkness. You didn’t see it coming and you weren’t prepared. Your whole world changed. You wonder…why?

Every day people die unexpectedly. These types of losses can be extremely traumatic and emotional for all those left behind.

“Trauma is an injury. We’ve been torn apart emotionally and spiritually. There’s shock, fear, anxiety, depression, loss of control and helplessness. It shakes your faith and affects your world view. You feel suspended and will need long-term support,” said renowned grief specialist Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D. during his recent annual seminar at Empath Health presented by Curlew Hills Memory Gardens.

A suicide death can bring on a unique set of emotions for survivors. “There’s taboo and stigma with suicide. Survivors may feel fear, misunderstanding, shunned and abandonment,” he explained.

Mourning & Grieving

Everyone needs to take time to mourn and grieve the lives that were so precious to them, says Dr. Wolfelt. “We live in a culture that wants to rush through grief, but grief by nature is slow. We must take our grief and allow it to be mourned. You not only mourn the physical death, you mourn your sense of self, meaning and safety. You don’t resolve grief, you are changed by it. You’re going to have grief bursts for the rest of your life.”

Senior Counselor Kathy Quance

Senior Counselor Kathy Quance

Specialized Support

Empath Health Community Counseling offers specialized sudden traumatic loss groups at our three community service centers. Additionally, we provide specialized crisis intervention services for local businesses, first responders, victim advocates and others in the community.

“A majority of our clients are trauma survivors. There have been homicides, suicides, heart attacks, car crashes and other deaths. Their sense of safety is rocked. We have to work with where they are and sometimes that’s in a dark place. They often ask the ‘whys’ and ‘what-ifs’. Even if we can’t get to the answers, it’s o.k. to ask the questions,” said Empath Health Senior Counselor Kathleen “Kathy” Quance, M.S., C.C.L.S.

Grieving those lost to suicide and homicide presents particular challenges, Quance says. “There can be a lot of stigma, judgment and isolation for suicide survivors, feeling like they can’t reach out for support. It can make their grief more complicated. With homicides, there can be long investigations, court cases and testifying. It’s hard for suicide survivors to keep going forward and find their new normal. The other factors with suicides and homicides is weighing forgiveness and questioning faith.”

ThinkstockPhotos-174082720Survivors may especially feel affected by certain times and individuals, she said. “Holidays can have a lot of triggers and tragic events in the news can impact people’s personal losses. Their losses may have happened long ago but they can resurface and feel real again.”

It’s important for survivors to not shut the world out and instead talk to supportive people, Quance said. “Our counseling services are always available. To have that external, objective support can be a blessing. It doesn’t have to be a counselor people talk with, it can also be a trusted friend. You have to find a place in your heart for grief. It’s a part of you and you have to learn the best way to live with it.”

For more information on Empath Health Community Counseling services, visit our website or call 727-523-3451.