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Trauma Vs. Grief

Trauma Reactions vs. Grief Reactions

Death from a trauma or disaster comes with its own set of reactions in addition to the grief associated with an anticipated death. The processes of coping with trauma are different and apart from the reactions to grief. It is overwhelming to be faced with experiencing both of these psychological stressors simultaneously. Trauma can have a smoothing effect on the grief process, giving time for an adjustment to a reality one may feel too terrible to bear. It takes time to move from a trauma reaction to the expected effects of grief and it may help to be aware of the differences.

Preoccupation with the traumatic event itself; intrusive images of the scene, replaying of the event over and over. Preoccupation with the lost person, images of the person and re­-experiencing the lost person’s presence.
Questioning and rejection of religious beliefs; feeling of betrayal or anger by Higher Power. Reaching out to religious support.
Guilt for surviving; “It’s all my fault”. “I could have stopped it if I had just...”Guilt over regrets of things not done or not said.
Pain is related to the tremendous terror and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. Pain is related to the loss.
Hyper­-vigilant; Constant scanning of the environment searching for the deceased.Insomnia; wakeful hours spent thinking of the deceased.
Feelings of futility and inability to visualize the future.Intense yearning.
Dreams of the event; placing one’s self in the circumstances of the death. Dreams of the person who died.