Trauma & Abuse >>> What about "normal grief and loss?

What about "normal grief and loss?
Trauma and The grief process

Trauma & Abuse

"There is no trauma without grief; there is no grief without trauma." Therese Rando, Ph.D."

Grief is healthy response to the loss of something, or someone, that was valued, needed, wanted or expected. It is a normal healing process after traumatic events as well as an anticipated death. When you have experienced a profound loss your body, mind and spirit needs to grieve in order to make a healthy transition.

Unfortunately, anyone who has experienced the death or loss of a loved one knows all too well that grief is not a linear process with a rule book or a timeline. Much like the healthy resolution of trauma, "normal" or uncomplicated grief or "mourning" is completed when the pain is experienced and expressed, and the loss is not forgotten, but incorporated into a new way of being in the world.

For a dying person, this is accepting their approaching death, while the survivors must integrate a world without the deceased. And with trauma the loss of security, safety, trust, health, or innocence must be grieved. This normal grief process after a death or debilitating trauma can take years, much to the distress of the bereaved and those supporting the bereaved. And, when a death has been violent, sudden, suicide or of a child, or the effects of a trauma permanent ... it is not uncommon for a blanket of sadness to remain indefinitely.

Please see the Stages of Grief to better understand the normal resolution of grief.

What if I'm still grieving a "Normal" Death or Loss?

When the normal "letting go" process of grief does not resolve after many years, it is called "complicated mourning". With complicated mourning, the impact of the loss may be denied, or the person may be frozen in anger, depression, shame or guilt, and unable to make the transition into a peaceful new life.

A type of complicated mourning that is often overlooked in grieving is that of "disenfranchised grief", described by Kenneth Doka as "grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, publicly mourned and/or socially supported."


In this category might be unchecked racial and social injustices, childhood and spousal abuse, rape, the grief parents of violent criminals may feel, as well as the frequently discounted impact of miscarriages, perinatal deaths and abortions, and death of beloved pets.

The art of grief

Many symptoms that appear to be mental illness or unpleasant character traits are in actuality complicated grief. Understanding that unresolved grief after a death, or trauma, can be underlying many mental health problems often makes sense to those who have suffered for many years, and this information may make the uncomfortable process seem a little more tolerable.

EMDR may be helpful after a time of normal grief, and may help resolve a complicated grief process, but it is important to realize that EMDR cannot change reality. For many individuals grief, from a death or a trauma, will become a sacred spiritual process; a time to re-evalute one's assumptions about the world and the meaning of life, and EMDR may be a helpful tool in making this transition. There is an art to learning to grieve which only comes with time and experience.

For a wonderful book on grief, suitable for any age, please see Tear Soup by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen.

Also from the Tear Soup website:

Symptoms of Grief

Normal Reactions to Loss

What You Can Do For a Person Who is Bereaved

What Not to Say to a Grieving Person

How To Help Your Children

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