People bereaved by sudden death suffer terribly – whether it’s through a road accident, suicide, disaster, war, accident, or undiagnosed medical reasons. They are often left isolated, bewildered and traumatised and need extra support to help them cope and move forwards with their lives. Sometimes, traumatic grief symptoms are referred to as complicated, acute or prolonged grief.

Traumatic grief is a way of defining grief thoughts and reactions that are more traumatic (and consequently challenging), than those generally suffered after a loss, and which last longer than two months. A sudden and unexpected loss or bereavement is more likely to result in traumatic grief reactions.

If you are finding it difficult to manage on a day-to-day basis, it may be helpful to see a counsellor or other health professional. It’s okay to admit you are struggling with your grief. No-one will think any less of you if you ask for help along the way.

Symptoms of Post Traumatic Grief

  • Excessive irritability
  • Anger and bitterness, sometimes in sudden bouts
  • Continued insomnia and nightmares
  • Feeling of unfairness at the death or issues around the death
  • Strong feelings of personal responsibility for the death, and/or unfinished business with the person who has died
  • A sense that the world as they understood it has been shattered
  • Intrusive thoughts about the bereavement, that happen suddenly, when trying to get on with other things
  • Difficulty socialising and avoidance of social situations
  • Difficulty functioning; difficulty doing daily tasks such as finding it hard to cope with stressful moments at work or stresses when caring for children
  • Feelings of futility about the future: what is the point of it all? Disinterest in planning for the future
  • These reactions and behaviours lasting more than two months after the bereavement

People suffering from traumatic grief are likely to have a strong desire to be reunited with the person who died, and a difficulty accepting the death. They are likely to have intrusive thoughts that revolve around thinking about the person who died all the time, and seeing the person who died everywhere they look.

They may also have depressive or suicidal thoughts. They may also suffer phobias and fears associated with the bereavement, such as not wishing to travel by car if bereaved by a car crash.

People with traumatic grief may also develop addictions, such as a tendency to turn to alcohol, cigarettes or drugs (legal or illegal). They may suffer weight loss or weight gain. They may have on-going physical reactions such as pains, illness, or manifestations of stress such as stuttering.

Do you suffer from complicated grief?
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Post Traumatic Grief -v- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Many of the thoughts and reactions typical of PTSD are the same as those given to explain what it is like to suffer Post Traumatic Grief. It is possible for a suddenly bereaved person to be defined as suffering from traumatic grief and PTSD. People diagnosed as suffering from PTSD are defined as firstly having suffered a traumatic event, which can include a sudden death of a loved one. The bereaved person has recurring thoughts about the horror of that event. This often manifests through vivid flashbacks, when it feels as though the event or events surrounding it are happening again, traumatic nightmares, and intense distress when reminded of the event.

But PTSD is also caused by other traumatic events such as domestic violence, witnessing or being the victim of a violent crime, natural disasters, acts of terrorism, combat etc etc.

Find out more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) here >>


The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and sought from third party providers who are experts in their field.

I do not offer Professional Help or Crisis Support Services personally! I share the information of 3rd parties who are qualified professionals in this field.

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