Coping with Grief
A traumatic death shatters the world of the Survivor. It is a loss that doesn't make sense as the Survivor tries to make sense of it and to create some kind of meaning out of a terrible event. The family must confront the fact that life is not fair, that bad things do happen to good people, and that the world no longer feels safe.
Ralph Myers, whose 25-year-old son Tom was murdered, said, "It is hard even to attempt to explain the range of emotions a parent goes through when a child is taken away from them. Particularly a perfectly healthy and happy one. Even now after almost 2 years since Tom was murdered, my wife, daughter and I constantly experience new and different feelings. Most of those feelings are sad and cannot be rationalized away. How can they be? Your child was young, vibrant and healthy - with their whole life ahead of them. There is and can be no logical explanation as to why your child was murdered. No one, especially a child or young person, deserves to die in the manner they do when they are murdered."
"On July 24, 1993, Thomas Arthur Myers in the eyes of the law and the judicial system ceased to exist. His loving care and affection he had for his family, friends, and anyone he came in contact with were of little or no value, or so it seemed to those of us left behind to mourn our loss. His brief 25 years of life he shared with those that loved him was obliterated. He was relegated to being a victim. To the State, he was less important than the person who murdered him. Every effort was to be made to assure that every conceivable constitutional right was granted to Tom's murderer. Justice was to be served at all costs, even if it meant the integrity of the police that arrived at the scene while the shooting was still occurring, or the reputation of Tom's friends and others that were at the party the night he was murdered."
This shattering of belief about the world and how it functions only compounds the task of grieving.
The pain of a traumatic loss may actually get worse a year or more after the death of their loved one - just at the time when family and friends may have gone back to their own lives and not be as supportive.
Some thoughts on helping others cope with grief
- Don't push
- Be patient
- Be humble
- Be honest
- Be gentle
- Confront rarely
- Respect their defenses
- Pay attention to your own feelings
- Accept your limitations
- Rely first on your feelings and second on your knowledge
- When in doubt, consult
- Remember that:
- Grief is unique
- Grief is private
- Grief is individual
- There is no cure for grief
- Be practical
- Be yourself
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