When Grieving a Sudden Loss

There are always two parties to a death…………….the person who dies and the survivors who are bereaved…and in the apportionment of suffering, the survivor takes the brunt. Any loss of a loved one is tragic and painful, but when death occurs from a sudden, unexpected cause such as an accident, natural disaster, suicide or murder, the reactions of the survivors in coping with their grief are more intense and varied than they may be following a death that occurs after a prolonged illness. An unexpected loss brings with it factors that do not normally exist when death is anticipated. Not only must the survivors cope with feelings of grief, but they often have to cope with intrusion into their mourning by the media or with the vagaries and slowness of the criminal justice system. Other factors adding to the burden of an unexpected death are the lack of an opportunity to say goodbye or to plan for the financial future of the family left behind.

No Time to Prepare

Regardless of the cause, a sudden death deprives the survivors of “anticipatory grief.” This is the grief that begins when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness. It helps prepare the survivor for the coming loss and reduces the intensity of the psychological reaction to the eventual death.

Violent Death

The mind has trouble comprehending sudden, violent death. Deaths involving violence or mutilation are particularly traumatic because of the frightening feelings—ranging from terror to anxiety to powerlessness—which they engender in the survivors. Often the violence of the act resulting in death arouses strong feelings of hostility in the mourner, causing severe internal conflict leading to guilt, shame or depression.

Suicide

Family members of someone who has committed suicide also face special burdens. Many family survivors of suicide have higher levels of guilt, shame and anger than do survivors of sudden loss from other causes. Persons grieving a loss through suicide are often left with questions, such as why their loved ones killed themselves, and what, if anything, they might have done to prevent the suicide. These questions are often unanswerable and can prolong the process of grieving and coming to grips with the loss.

“Natural” Causes

Heart attacks and strokes are major causes of death in this country, and these deaths are often sudden and unexpected. The sudden loss of a loved one, even from these “natural” causes, can be as unexpected and devastating to the survivors as the death of a loved one from a murder or an accident.

Emotional Challenges

What most, if not all, survivors of sudden loss have in common are a series of emotional challenges, including:

  • Disruption of family functioning
  • Redefining of responsibilities and roles within the family
  • Challenges to the survivors’ belief systems
  • Financial change
  • Public intrusion into private anguish
  • Lack of opportunity to say goodbye and resolve other “unfinished” business with the deceased
  • Hurt—often inadvertent—caused by the well-intended words and actions of other family members and friends.

The Six Rs

There are six mourning processes that survivors of any loss must go through in order to achieve a “healthy accommodation” of the loss.  Survivors of sudden loss often have a more difficult time with one or more of the processes, which are identified as “the six Rs.”

These processes are:

1. Recognize the loss. Acknowledge that the loss has occurred and understand it.
2. React to the separation. Survivors should allow themselves to experience the pain and give expression to their feelings of loss.
3. Recollect and re-experience the deceased and the relationship. However, the recollections should be realistic, both good and not so good.
4. Relinquish the old attachments of the deceased. This involves the attachments of the deceased, not the survivors’ attachment to or feelings for the deceased. For example, just because the deceased’s clothes have been donated to charity doesn’t mean that all memories have been disposed of as well.
5. Readjust to move adaptively into the new world. Survivors need to adopt new ways of continuing on with their lives while not forgetting their old ones. Survivors never fully detach their feelings for the deceased and that grieving should not be looked upon as a means of letting go of the person who has died.
6. Reinvest. Survivors need to re-establish close personal feelings with the living.

There Is No “Right” Way to Grieve

Survivors need to be patient with themselves. Mourning is an individual process that should be done at the survivor’s pace, and not be dictated by friends or family.  There is no “cookie cutter” approach to the grieving process.

Grief is “an uneven process” with no timeline. The circumstances of the loss, as well as anniversary dates of the loss, are significant for the survivors and should be acknowledged.

Grievers need opportunities to share their memories and grief. They are not best left alone and they do need support. Don’t tell survivors to take their mind off the loss or to keep busy.

Becoming Active Again

Survivors of sudden loss should not dwell on the negativity of the event, but rather turn their response to the loss into a positive, active experience. She suggests that a survivor grieving over the loss of a loved one from an accident, campaign for tougher safety regulations. The family of a murder victim could campaign for victim’s rights. And a survivor could positively respond to a sudden loss caused by illness by becoming active in the fight against the disease.

Believe that the loved one’s death was not in vain.  Something positive will come from it. No one experiences or copes with a loss in the same way, but when the loss is sudden and violent, the emotional and behavioral characteristics are intensified. It is this intensity that must be focused upon so that normal reactions to the psychological trauma of sudden loss do not become the foundation of a dysfunctional lifestyle for the survivors.

Live life from here on out, the way that the person you lost, would want you to.  That will bring honor to that person.

 

 

22 POSITIVE HABITS OF HAPPY PEOPLE

 What’s the secret to being happy? You can learn how to do it, just as you can learn any other skill. Those who are happy tend to follow a certain set of habits that create peace in their lives. If you learn to apply these habits in your own life, there’s a good chance you’ll be happy, too.

1. Let Go of Grudges

Forgiving is necessary for your own happiness, as holding a grudge means you’re also holding onto resentment, anger, hurt and other negative emotions that are standing in the way of your own happiness. Letting go of a grudge frees you from negativity and allows more space for positive emotions to fill in.

2. Treat Everyone with Kindness

Kindness is not only contagious…..it’s also proven to make you happier. When you’re kind to others, your brain produces feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin, and you’re able to build strong relationships with others, fostering positive feelings all around.

3. Regard Your Problems as Challenges

Change your internal dialogue so that anytime you have a “problem,” you view it as a challenge or a new opportunity to change your life for the better. Eliminate the word “problem” from your mind entirely.

4. Express Gratitude for What You Have

People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions, and are better able to reach their goals. The best way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or list, where you actively write down exactly what you’re grateful for each day. Doing so has been linked to happier moods, greater optimism and even better physical health.

5. Dream Big

Go ahead and dream big, as you’ll be more likely to accomplish your goals. Rather than limiting yourself, when you dream big you’re opening your mind to a more optimistic, positive state where you have the power to achieve virtually anything you desire.

6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

If the issue you’re mad about will be irrelevant, a year, a month, a week or even a day from now, why sweat it? Happy people know how to let life’s daily irritations roll off their back.

7. Speak Well of Others

It may be tempting to gather around the office water cooler to get and give the daily gossip, but talking negatively about others is like taking a bath in negative emotions; your body soaks them up. Instead, make it a point to only say positive, nice words about other people, and you’ll help foster more positive thinking in your own life as well.

8. Avoid Making Excuses

It’s easy to blame others for your life’s failures, but doing so means you’re unlikely to rise past them. Happy people take responsibility for their mistakes and missteps, then use the failure as an opportunity to change for the better.

9. Live in the Present

Allow yourself to be immersed in whatever it is you’re doing right now, and take time to really be in the present moment. Avoid replaying past negative events in your head or worrying about the future; just savor what’s going on in your life now.

10. Wake Up At the Same Time Every Morning

Getting up at the same time every day (preferably an early time) is deceptively simple. Doing so will help regulate your circadian rhythm so you’ll have an easier time waking and likely feel more energized. Plus, the habit of rising early every day is one shared by many successful people, as it enhances your productivity and focus.

11. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Your life is unique, so don’t measure your own worth by comparing yourself to those around you. Even regarding yourself as better than your peers is detrimental to your happiness, as you’re fostering judgmental feelings and an unhealthy sense of superiority. Measure your own success based on your progress alone, not that of others.

12. Surround Yourself with Positive People

The saying “misery loves company” is entirely true. That’s why you need to choose friends who are optimistic and happy themselves, as you will be surrounded with positive energy.

13. Realize That You Don’t Need Others’ Approval

It’s important to follow your own dreams and desires without letting naysayers stand in your way. It’s fine to seek others’ opinions, but happy people stay true to their own hearts and don’t get bogged down with the need for outside approval.

14. Take Time to Listen

Listening helps you soak in the wisdom of others and allows you to quiet your own mind at the same time. Intense listening can help you feel content while helping you gain different perspectives.

15. Nurture Social Relationships

Positive social relationships are a key to happiness, so be sure you make time to visit with friends, family and your significant other.

16. Meditate (Using prayer or clearing your mind and visualizing yourself in a calm, relaxed environment or situation, then pay attention to what your body is feeling)

Meditation helps you keep your mind focused, calms your nerves and supports inner peace. Research shows it can even lead to physical changes in your brain that make you happier.

17. Eat Well

What you eat directly impacts your mood and energy levels in both the short and long term. Whereas eating right can prime your body and brain to be in a focused, happy state, eating processed junk foods will leave you sluggish and prone to chronic disease. My nutrition plan is an excellent tool to help you choose the best foods for both physical and emotional wellness.

18. Exercise

Exercise boosts levels of health-promoting brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress and also relieve some symptoms of depression. Rather than viewing exercise as a medical tool to lose weight, prevent disease, and live longer – all benefits that occur in the future – try viewing exercise as a daily tool to immediately enhance your frame of mind, reduce stress and feel happier.

19. Live Minimally

Clutter has a way of sucking the energy right out of you and replacing it with feelings of chaos. Clutter is an often-unrecognized source of stress that prompts feelings of anxiety, frustration, distraction and even guilt, so give your home and office a clutter makeover, purging it of the excess papers, files, knick knacks and other “stuff” that not only takes up space in your physical environment, but also in your mind.

20. Be Honest

Every time you lie, your stress levels are likely to increase and your self-esteem will crumble just a little bit more. And, if others find out you’re a liar, it will damage your personal and professional relationships. Telling the truth, on the other hand, boosts your mental health and allows others to build trust in you.

21. Establish Personal Control

Avoid letting other people dictate the way you live. Instead, establish personal control in your life that allows you to fulfill your own goals and dreams, as well as a great sense of personal self-worth.

22. Accept What Cannot Be Changed

Everything in your life is not going to be perfect, and that’s perfectly all right. Happy people learn to accept injustices and setbacks in their life that they cannot change, and instead put their energy on changing what they can control for the better.