Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thursday's Therapy - Undone… by Traumatic Grief - 9 Descriptors of What Can Bring on Traumatic Grief Reactions ~Tommy and Angie Prince with H. Norman Wright

Thursday's Therapy
Undone… by Traumatic Grief
9 Descriptors of What Can Bring on Traumatic Grief Reactions

~Tommy and Angie Prince

with H. Norman Wright, Grief & Trauma Therapist

Tommy and I have always maintained Child-Loss Grief is not just about the grief, but it is primarily about the trauma. Yes, we miss our child, and our world will never be the same, but somehow we always thought we would be able to trust our bodies to be there for us, our spirituality to always be secure -- especially when we most need it, our minds to be mentally stable, our trust in God to be secure, our relationship with one another to be stable--especially in a crisis, our peace of mind to be present when everything around us may be falling apart. We, after all, were trained to deal with crisis. To lose all sense of judgment when a client is in crisis would be disastrous for all… 

But here we are in the crisis, and instead of thinking sanely, we have to question our own judgment, our own ability to think clearly enough to make wise decisions, our own stability when all alarms are going off inside as if disaster were around every corner. As if the loss of our child were not enough, we have had all our props knocked out from under us -- and that, when we most need them! 

Our family members and friends on whom we could always count, desert us from their own insecurities and fears of death. Our churches are exposed to be more about the programs we are expected to attend than to be about the tremendous love of God that can carry us through all, and we cannot bear such true message of God's character being blurred by any non-necessities at a time when everything about us is thrown into major crisis. 

Our health can be accosted. Our bodies are so steeped in grief that they cannot take in all the cues around us so that we become uncharacteristically accident prone. Our jobs can become albatrosses around our neck instead of the secure rhythms of life they have always been, for our job now --our main job-- is our grief and trauma that we need every focus we have available to be able to navigate the extremely rugged terrain on which we find ourselves. Our sleep is wrecked to where we have nightmares or insomnia such that we aren't even rested when we face the next day when we must again navigate and tread through the hazardous, yet slow-as-molasses terrain for another day. Our world-as-we-knew it seems to be crumbling down all around us, and this at a time when everyone in our "support" system thinks we should surely be doing well by now shouldn't we?!

We have always contended that in Child-Loss, we have not only the world's worst grief to deal with, but added to that the most unexpected, continuous serving of trauma we ever would have expected to have to cope with!

As Norm Wright, a Christian psychotherapist specializing in grief, and also a child-loss parent, says in his book, Helping Those in Grief:

Traumatic grief lengthens and multiplies every aspect of the grief process.  Traumatic grief is a direct response to disastrous events that threaten safety, security and beliefs around which we structure and order our lives. It can happen directly to the person or to a family member.

Certain events are more likely to precipitate traumatic grief reactions and share some uncommon themes. Here is a list of descriptors that identify what can bring on Traumatic Grief Reactions:

  • Unexpected--The surprise elements stun and shock. We feel dazed and disoriented. 
  • Uncontrollable--The event is beyond our abilities to change it. We feel powerless and vulnerable.
  • Unimaginable--The horrific elements are not familiar to our way of life. Our frame of reference does not include what we are witnessing. We feel appalled and horrified.
  • Unreal--The event is too strange to process. We see but do not comprehend what we are seeing. We feel confused and disoriented.
  • Unfair--We feel like victims who have done nothing to deserve this tragedy. We feel hurt, puzzled, angry or fearful.
  • Unforgivable--We need to blame someone or something. What do we do with our anger, rage and urge to punish? We feel powerless. 
  • Unprecedented--Nothing like this has happened before. We don't have a script to follow. We feel directionless.
  • Unprepared--We haven't perceived a reason to ready ourselves for an unimaginable catastrophe. Our defense mechanisms may be inadequate to handle the demand. We feel overwhelmed.
  • Uncertainty--We don't fully know the long-range effect on ourselves, our families, our jobs, our future and the future of our offspring. We feel ambivalent and torn between hope and fear.

Picture, thanks to Barbara Kerrer, Grieving Mothers


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