Sudden traumatic death is when we lose someone to an event that takes the life violently and without warning.
This week, it brings to mind two separate and very troubling events.
This past Sunday was the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and this date is now engraved into our memories as a day of sudden traumatic death.
It is a day that affected most of the world and to a large degree, changed how we view the safety of our world. The second event that hit close to home is the sudden loss of Russian hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to an airplane crash.
This type of death can be especially devastating to the families left behind, as it brings questions to their minds that can be all consuming. Did my loved one suffer? Did it happen suddenly? Was there pain and fear? How did this happen? Where can I place the blame?
Survivors sometimes suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or survivors guilt after a loss like 9/11 or a plane crash.
This grief shatters the sense of order in their lives and may challenge their current belief system. The grief response is intensified as there is no time to prepare for the loss and may include feelings of anger, sudden depression and guilt, to name just a few.
The anniversary of 9/11 and the plane crash are but two examples of sudden traumatic death. This type of loss includes death where there are multiple victims; the deaths are preventable or random, unanticipated and sudden.
There are distinct issues for the survivors and although they share many of the same grief reactions, this type of grief is complicated.
If someone you know has suffered sudden traumatic death, you can help by listening. If professional help is needed, check with local clergy or the local hospice for resources. And as always, be kind.
It can be difficult to walk the grief journey with someone, so remember: you don’t have to have answers; you don’t have to fix anything. All you have to do is be there.
– Barbara Bleiler is a certified funeral celebrant and advertising rep for the Grand Forks Gazette