Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday's Therapy - Does the Grief After a Child's Traumatic Death Ever End? ~Dr. Ursula Weide, Grief Expert, Says No

~Journey of the Survivor

What Not to Say to a Grieving Parent

Don't tell me to go on with my life.
Don't tell me to be strong.
Don't tell me my child was sick, that I knew it was coming.
Don't tell me my child is in a better place.
Don't tell me to stop crying.
Don't tell me you know how I feel.
Don't tell me I need to get over it.
Don't compare my child's death to your animals.
Don't tell me I need closure.
Do say I am here, just take my hand
and, cry all you need to!


Thursday's Therapy

Does the Grief After a Child's 

Traumatic Death Ever End?

Dr. Weide, Grief Expert, Says No

Nine years after the murder of their daughter and at the beginning of the suspect's trial on October 18 Chandra Levy's parents continue to suffer the symptoms of complicated or traumatic grief. According to Dr. Ursula Weide, such suffering is a major yet unrecognized public health problem which affects millions each year. The current efforts on the part of mental health experts to make complicated grief an officially recognized diagnosis will compel society to develop a better understanding of the pain of the survivors and to pave the way for more helpful treatment.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) 

October 22, 2010

Chandra Levy’s parents, their daughter murdered in 2001 in
Washington, D.C., continue to experience the typical symptoms
of complicated grief, as the Washington Post reported on October
18. The case received national attention because Levy, a federal
intern, had an affair with Congressman Condit from California
at the time. 

Since Levy’s body was found one year after her disappearance,
many questions will remain unanswered. Now that the trial of the
suspect is beginning, the parents still wonder what they could have
done to prevent the violent death of their child in Washington,
D.C., thousands of miles away from their own home.


Dr. Ursula Weide, a Licensed Psychologist and Fellow of
Thanatology with offices in Maryland and Virginia, who
developed a novel approach to complicated grief years after the
traumatic death of her young husband, says that it is natural for
the “what ifs”, anger, guilt, tension between the parents, and the
agony of the questions without answers – why did it happen to
our daughter? – to continue for extended periods of time.

Complicated grief after a traumatic – such as an untimely or violent - 
death of a child, spouse, partner, sibling or parent, fundamentally 
changes a person’s life and takes many years to integrate into a different 
way of living. As reported in numerous research papers, 10% to15% of all 
the bereaved – close to 2 million new traumatized grievers each year - 
experience complicated grief, different from adaptive grief after, for 
example, the death of an aging parent or a friend.

Adaptive grief, which initially can involve symptoms similar to 
complicated grief, subsides within a few weeks or months, says Weide. 
Complicated grief, such as the Levy family’s natural reaction to their 
child’s death, continues. Society’s lack of understanding of the difference 
and of the lasting impact of a traumatic death make it even harder for the 
survivors to eventually learn to live better with what happened, the best 
outcome possible.

Society wants survivors to 

"Move on, Get over it, Get a life” 

and has a time frame of about 3 to 5 months. Since the survivors are 
painfully aware that none of this often well-intended advice is helpful 
and that the trauma continues way beyond the first several months, they 
often feel that they are “going crazy” or that something is wrong with them, 
says Weide. A great sense of hopelessness and isolation from friends and 
family often follows. Studies have also shown that the risk of illness and 
death on the part of the survivors exceeds the national averages.

After their daughter’s disappearance and death, the Levys went public
with their grief, educating society and drawing attention to a degree of
suffering most would prefer to ignore. Fortunately, major efforts are
currently under way to have the diagnosis of Complicated Grief added
to the upcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of the American Psychiatric Association, as summarized in two articles
in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (July and August 2010). Two articles
in the New York Times shed additional light on some of the more
controversial aspects of these efforts.

According to Dr. Weide, once the new Complicated Grief diagnosis will
be official, society and health care practitioners will have no choice but to 
acquire more accurate information about the plight of traumatized
survivors and learn how to support them in a more appropriate fashion.


Readers’ Comment:

Do not advise them 
to "move on."  
That is simply cruel.

~Janice Badger Nelson, Hospice Nurse

Park City, Utah from Boston



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