Written by Christina Bieche, MSEd, LCPC, NCC
What is Traumatic Grief?
Traumatic grief specifically takes place after a loved one passes away in a traumatic manner and typically occurs in a sudden, unexpected manner.
Examples that might lead to traumatic grief include:
If one tends to bottle-up grief or pretend it doesn’t exist, they may resist seeking out support, which can have a number of negative effects on one’s well-being such as increasing the risk of physical ailments, substance use concerns, and mental health disorders.
What Is Traumatic Grief Therapy? Traumatic grief therapy is a type of treatment used to help people cope with sudden and unexpected loss. When a loved one passes away suddenly, the people left behind often experience traumatic grief. In order to deal with this intense kind of grief, therapy can be a helpful and healthy way to process painful emotions.
This type of therapy attempts to address the trauma response as well as the grief associated with a traumatic death. The goals of this form of therapy include emotional regulation, reduction of trauma symptoms, learning skills to cope and manage trauma, and processing losses associated with grief. Traumatic grief therapy is often tailored to address an individual's specific needs and symptoms. It may draw on various techniques, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
While everyone has different reactions to trauma, traumatic grief therapy can help people cope with different aspects of the response to trauma including:
Strategies used in this intervention included reviewing the traumatic event, finding meaning, writing assignments, and farewell rituals.
1. Stabilization of Trauma
Stabilization is the step in which the client and therapist will develop a rapport and sense of safety, focus on routine and structure, and begin to rebuild a stable environment in order to start trusting again.
2. Process the Trauma
After building a solid foundation, processing of the trauma and grief will begin. If at any time during the process, one begins to feel overwhelmed then a return to safety & stabilization will take place in order to decrease symptoms.
3. Later Grief Work
This step focuses on the continual processing of feelings associated with loss, living with the uncertainty of the trauma, grieving what has been lost, addressing what has been left undone, rewriting narratives, meaning-making, developing continual bonds, and facilitating post-traumatic growth.
Benefits of Treatment
There are several benefits associated with traumatic grief therapy including…
How to Get Started
If trauma symptoms and/or the pain of grief are making it difficult to function in areas such as work, taking care of others, getting out of bed, or getting through the day—it’s likely time to seek out additional support. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (630) 570-0050 or email us at Contact.OH@oakheartcenter.com to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our therapists.