Grief author and educator Dr. John Canine offers the following insight regarding the death of a loved one under sudden or tragic circumstances:
Accepting the loss of a significant person is never easy. When death occurs suddenly, as with a heart attack or car accident, it is extremely difficult to accept.
If the circumstances were such that you had the opportunity to anticipate the death of a loved one, as with a long illness, some of your grief work would be done before the death occurs. In this situation, it is more likely that you would experience a somewhat normal period of grieving after death. It does not mean the loss is any less significant; you merely had the opportunity to anticipate the impending death during the illness.
Grief researcher and author Therese Rando suggests in her book, “Loss and Anticipatory Grief” that, “The more anticipatory grief behavior engaged in prior to death, the less abnormal grief was present following the death.” (Rando 1986)
However, when there is sudden death, there is no time for you to prepare for the loss. Not having this period of anticipating the death means that the emotional impact on you following the death could be greater than if you had a chance to prepare for the loss.
Know that your emotions may be raw and accepting the loss for you can be a risky proposition. You were not ready for this sudden detachment from your loved one. It is normal if you find yourself avoiding the loss because that seems more acceptable than riding an emotional roller coaster.
If you find yourself continuing to struggle with these grief emotions, I would encourage you to join a support group specific to your type of loss. In addition, you may also want to consider seeking out a licensed professional counselor for more individualized care.
To learn more about Dr. Canine’s work, go to: www.maximumlivingconsult.com
Always remember, you are not alone. There are others who understand and are ready to help. The grief resources available to you will vary by community. Your NFDA funeral director is a great place to start to learn about support available in your area.