Traumatic and Sudden Deaths

Death affects each and every one of us at some point in our lives. We will all experience grief and we will all deal with this in various ways. However, when a loved one loses their life unexpectedly or in a traumatic way, it can be very difficult to come to terms with and the grieving process may be very different.

  • Around 765 people are murdered every year in the UK.
  • Around 1,500 women and 4,500 men lose their life to suicide each year.
  • Approximately 2000 people are killed on UK roads each year.
  • Heart attacks are the biggest cause of sudden deaths.

Deaths are never easy to come to terms with and the grieving process can be difficult. The ‘typical’ stages of grief according to Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler are as follows:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

We will look at these stages in more detail later in the week! However, when a loved one passes away under traumatic or sudden circumstances, you may stay in the denial and anger stages for longer. It is hard to accept something that has happened so unexpectedly especially if it is cruel and unjust. Many people who experience the loss of a loved one in this way, feel angry and often guilty, even though they have done nothing wrong.

It is also important to discuss post traumatic stress in relation to traumatic and sudden deaths, especially if a person was to witness the individual pass away.

Some symptoms of PTSD are:

  • May experience vivid flashbacks and nightmares
  • Panic attacks
  • Becoming jumpy and easily startled
  • You may face severe distress when faced with symbolic reminders of the incident

You can read more about the symptoms, causes and treatments of post traumatic stress here.

Helpful resources for support after losing a loved one:

Cruse Bereavement Care – freephone on 0808 808 1677

Hospice UK – Support with bereavement

The Samaritans


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