Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday's Woe - Helplessness Amidst our Child-Loss Trauma

Wednesday's Woe

Helplessness Amidst our Child-Loss Trauma

A Psychological Trauma is an event, perceived to be inescapable, that confronts a person with actual or threatened death or serious injury (physical or psychological) to the self or other.

Such trauma overwhelms our coping abilities, creates helplessness, anxiety, fear, and other types of psychological distress and dysfunction. It violates our assumptive world (the way we thought things would predictably work). It stimulates physical reactions stemming from built-in fight, flight,or freeze reactions.

~Therese Rando, Ph.D., Grief and Trauma Specialist

The essence of trauma is helplessness.

If the essence of trauma is helplessness, then initially, our losing a child is more about psychological trauma than it is about grief, especially if our child-loss is due to sudden death through violence as in a

  • a fatal car crash,
  • a homicide,
  • a suicide, or
  • a sudden medical death.

We need to realize we are not walking simply through child-loss grief which in itself would be hard enough, but our loss is heavy-laden with psychological trauma due to our beloved child's traumatic death.

Our children are a part of us, a sacred part of us. What hurts them hurts us! If they have been traumatized, we become traumatized. And the immediate trauma of their death is the first thing that hits us in the face.

Something horrific, traumatic, and violent, fatally assaulted our precious vulnerable child, and now we must face what they faced...

The general public has NO CLUE that we child-loss mourners fight a great deal of anxiety, fear, irritability, and traumatization.

Our "job" is to keep our child safe, and we could not.

It does not seem to matter that we are not "at fault," for psychologically we feel at fault anyway if we could not save them...

  • We live and relive their violent-death trauma.
  • We live and relive any and all relationship-issues that were not quite resolved.
  • We live and relive our own inadequacies, whatever our perceptions of those inadequacies may be (or perhaps even what our child perceived them to be, whether accurately or inaccurately).
  • And we don't have our child here to successfully launch them into the next phase of their life and be a part of that with them, so their "absence" traumatizes us, and continues to traumatize us.

Personal Disaster

We have been through what the trauma-specialists qualify as a "Personal Disaster" complete with the symptoms of

  • shock,
  • denial,
  • disbelief,
  • helplessness,
  • distress,
  • high arousal,
  • shock over images,
  • alarm at information trickling in, and
  • many times, the confusing, shocking, and emotionally distressing dynamics involved in relating to courts, witnesses, the police, the district attorney, the medical examiner, the firemen, rescue workers, etc.

Too often if we do make it into counseling to deal with any areas where we may find ourselves "stuck" early in our
Traumatic Stress
amidst our grief and mourning, we find counselors who are ready to talk about grief and loss but who are totally unequipped to deal with our massive trauma.

And yet, Trauma is the FIRST thing with which the child-loss parent needs urgent help...

And Child-Loss Trauma, by its nature, renders us absolutely helpless.

Picture thanks to


No comments:

Post a Comment