grief due to complicated death

- Someone that you know or love has been tragically killed in an accident, by murder or suicide. There are so many questions and so few answers. In fact, there may be no answers at all.

- When you experience a loss through death, you may find yourself feeling powerless. This may be the first time in your life when you have no control over what has happened.

- You could not prevent it; you cannot fix it. There is nothing you can do.

- When you add the element of a traumatic death to your loss, it can be overwhelming. The shocking events of the death leave you feeling vulnerable and wondering about your own safety and security.

- The world as you knew it and the assumptions that you made about it are shattered. Nothing will ever be the same again.

- It is important that when you experience a traumatic loss, you find someone to listen to your questions and your story.

- You may have a deep need to find the answers to many questions about the trauma and you may need to ask the questions over and over again.

- Sometimes, you can come to the conclusion that there are no answers but this will take time and someone to help you who can genuinely listen.

Copyright 2002 Griefworks BC


Everyone suffers. In times of war or calamity or natural disasters, everyone suffers together. Yet no matter how far the dark ripples of pain might spread, suffering is always individual. We feel it inside as a wound to ourselves, but because it is invisible, we can't show this wound to anyone else. We can only live through the terrible experience of grief and depression, the sense of loss that overwhelms us so much that nothing else matters. Suffering can be defined as the pain that makes like seem meaningless.

... Humans are subject to complex inner pain that includes fear, guilt, shame, grief, rage and hopelessness Hold [someone] Don't be afraid to ask for contact. Reach out and tell your loved ones that you do love them; don't let it be taken for granted. Feel your fear. Be with it and allow it to be released naturally. Pray. Grieve with others if you can, alone if you must. These are simple, basic remedies.

... Spirit gives us access to an emotion that cannot be felt in isolation - compassion. Compassion comes from the root words 'to suffer with', and for that reason many people actually fear it.

Compassion is one of the most honoured and saintly feelings because it marches up to the front lines of suffering and says 'take me'. In this giving of oneself there is a direct experience of pain, yet in the giving, there is love.

Thus compassion has the power to dissolve pain by not avoiding it, but by trusting that love affords the greatest protection. By discovering that there is a reality - love - stronger than any pain, you mount your strongest defence.

- from The Deeper Wound, by Deepak Chopra

trauma + grief

According to Dr. Therese Rando, an authority on complicated grief, there are three conditions that add the situation of trauma to grief. They are:

  1. When you have an encounter with death where there is a threat to your own survival;
  2. When you are suddenly faced with a massive, shocking and sudden death and mutilation of other people; and
  3. When you are faced with the traumatic and / or mutilation death of a loved one.
Dr. Rando also describes a list of symptoms that may be mistaken for complicated grief. She says that the following symptoms have often been incorrectly identified as abnormal responses to loss but they are not. These are things that naturally happen when someone is traumatized and grieving.

- If issues, feelings, and unresolved conflicts come up from past losses that either have or have not been dealt with;

- Experiencing feelings other than sadness (eg., anger or guilt) and reacting to the loss in other than psychological ways (eg. behaviorally, socially, physically);

- Feeling that part of the mourner has died along with the loved one;

- Feeling sorry for oneself to a certain extent;

- Having a continued relationship with the deceased;

- Keeping the person's room or workplace or other physical environments in such a way as to stimulate memories of the deceased;

- Taking actions so that others will not forget the deceased;

- Feeling increased vulnerability about the possibility of one's own death or the deaths of other loved ones;

- Being reluctant to change things or have them be changed if the deceased had been a part of them or had been alive at the time they took place. Examples would be not wanting the year to end or the decade to change; to move or take a new job; or to break up an old relationship;

- Feeling resentment that others continue to live whereas the loved one has died, or that others are not mourning;

- Experiencing temporary periods of acute grief long after the death; and

- Experiencing some aspects of mourning that continue for many years, if not forever, and / or a course of mourning that does not decline linearly with time.

If you have concerns about the behavior of someone who has experienced a traumatic loss, talk with them about it and offer your support in arranging professional help.

Copyright 2002 Griefworks BC

Visit this excellent site and read their archives on grief!

a superb book that pivots on grief

I am a blind woman recalling colour, I am the amputee who still believes that she can feel each shin. All that yearning! I was gutted: I longed for him to exist not only so that he could guide me, but so that I could love and be in turn loved by him. Forgetful wish.

My father had always been that place to which I could return.

I sought his voice in silence, chased his shadow through the dawn. Mourners depend on such implausibility for sustenance. It was a case of separating smoke from air and air from smoke: circular endeavours designed only to lead me to myself. Anything to distract me from the truth. My intellect reconstructed him but the experience was lost and so I valiantly incorporated that loss into my reconstruction - again, so circular.

When my fabled stepfather gripped my throat and smilingly tried to choke me, all I could think of as I kicked and struggled was my father. There is such sorrow in knowing that he will never see me as a woman. There is such sorrow in knowing that he will never again share my life. There is a world of sorrow in relinquishing such love. Grief is a sphere.

- from The Pure Weight of the Heart by Antonella Gambotto-Burke

Grief: different experiences, different expressions
Anger and depression
Trauma + recovery
Suicidal urges
Learn more about Antonella Gambotto-Burke ...
A healthy life
The healing power of hope
In debt?
The laughter page
Find your own North Star
Optimism - the key
How to feel better about yourself
Feel like a hug?

Message board for survivors of murder - NOW!
Scroll down this page for excellent message boards on losing your beloved - NOW!
Buy How to Recover From Grief
Create a memorial for your beloved
National Center for Victims of Crime
Neighbours who Care
Compassionate Friends
Free memorial page for your murdered beloved
Great free guided audio online relaxation exercises
Message boards for all survivors - siblings, parents, grandparents - online NOW!
Parents of Murdered Children's Website
Email Parents of Murdered Children
Murdered siblings
Crisis intervention
Overcoming Sleep Problems, by the father of a murdered girl
Helping Someone When a Loved One has been Murdered
Excellent books that deal with those who are murdered
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation
Why the death penalty is no solution
Suggestions for Survivors of Murder
Compassionate Friends
Survivors' newsletter
Trauma and Grief