Losing A Loved One: Grief And Addiction Recovery
Grieving is a normal process that occurs when experiencing the death of a loved one, or even just a person you knew. When experiencing & talking about grief, its important to note that it is different from chronic depression. Grieving in general can be difficult, and especially difficult when trying to maintain recovery from addiction. We understand that grief can cause issues in maintaining sobriety and we want to help provide our clients with different resources that can help them overcome those temptations and obstacles. When life gets tough, its imperative to know that sobriety is still maintainable.
What Is Traumatic Grief
Traumatic grief can happen in response to a sudden, unexpected loss.
For example, maybe you lost a child, or experienced the violent death of someone close to you. It might also involve losing your support system.
Traumatic grief is different from the grief that happens from an expected loss, such as when someone passes away after a long chronic illness.
That doesnt mean that other forms of grief are any less difficult to deal with. In some people, it may even lead to prolonged grief disorder, also called complicated grief.
Traumatic grief is more likely to lead to complicated grief. And the feelings that come with traumatic grief are also much more intense.
The shock and unexpected nature of the loss can be traumatizing and trigger intrusive, preoccupying thoughts or bodily responses that are essentially distorted survival mechanisms in addition to the mourning of whatever was unexpectedly lost, says Michael Roeske, PsyD and executive director at Newport Healthcare Connecticut.
Traumatic grief is also related to prolonged grief disorder, says Roeske. Sometimes, people use the terms interchangeably. Prolonged grief disorder involves a deep longing for the lost loved one and constant thoughts about them, which can interfere with your everyday life.
Research involving adults who lost someone during 9/11 found that about 43% had what could be categorized as complicated grief with PTSD 3 years after the event.
Help From A Sudden Case Worker
In all cases, if you are not a medical professional and are reading this page, seek help from a Sudden case worker. With the permission of the bereaved person, they can seek an assessment from an appropriate medical professional of their needs and appropriate treatment.
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Worst Experience: Unexpected Death Compared To Other Potentially Traumatic Experiences
The proportion of individuals who report unexpected death as their worst experience across levels of total lifetime experiences is shown in . Among those with at least four potentially traumatic experiences, more than 30% reported that unexpected death of a loved one was the worst event that they experienced. Among those with at least 5 and upwards of at least 11 potentially traumatic experiences, more than 20% reported unexpected death of a loved one as worst. A higher proportion reported unexpected death as their worst experience than for any other traumatic experience assessed in the survey, at every level of exposure .
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Psychotherapy And Traumatic Pet Loss
Pet loss treatment research is in its early stages and little research on intervention effectiveness for traumatic pet loss has been conducted . However, psychotherapy recommendations for traumatic pet loss include complicated grief therapy and a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. Complicated grief therapy, while not evidence based for traumatic pet loss, may be a viable option for treatment. This approach integrates attachment theory and has roots in both cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy . The combination of IPT and CBT allows for CBT to manage the maladaptive cognitions and for IPT to pay attention to the grief as it is one of the four interpersonal areas of focus. There is a need for further research on traumatic pet loss and therapeutic intervention. In addition to therapeutic interventions, positive social support can aid in facilitating positive outcomes after grief, including posttraumatic growth. By providing an outlet for disclosure of trauma related memories, thoughts, and emotions the interactions open the door for support and feedback from others and stimulates dialectical thinking about the meaning of ones experiences .
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Predictors Of Ptsd Associated With Ud
Respondents who were in the oldest age quartile at the time they experienced the UD had significantly elevated univariate PTSD odds compared to those in the youngest quartile . PTSD was also significantly more common among women than men and among the currently married and previously married than the never married in univariate models, but was not significantly associated with respondent education.
What Does Ptsd Look Like In A Suicide Survivor
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in a suicide survivor is similar to PTSD that was not caused by the suicide of a loved one. Although the fear, thoughts and panic tend to be more prescient and the actions they take are either to protect their remaining relatives or to harm themselves .
To know if your friend or family member has PTSD caused by the sudden death of a loved one by suicide, you need to know what PTSD looks like in suicide survivors.
Here are some signs to look out for
- Frequent episodes of anger and extreme worry after learning of the sudden death of a loved one
- Flashbacks to the last sight of her loved one who is lifeless
- They thought about what they must have felt in their last moments
- Avoid seeing things related to the suicide attempt and refuse to visit the place where the suicide attempt was made
- Restless and inferior sleep and nightmares
- Extreme changes in daily routine to avoid being reminded of the incident
- feelings of guilt and self-reproach
- Palpitations, sweating or hyperventilation
- Negative intrusive thinking
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Treatment For Ptsd After Bereavement
The treatment most recommended by mental health organisations is psychological therapy such as CBT or online therapies – either through courses or with a professional.
We recommend BetterHelp who provide confidential online counseling with expert therapists and counselors. You can read more about how this therapy works here.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Ptsd
It is normal for a person with cancer or a cancer survivor to have feelings of anxiety, such as worry, fear, and dread. But if these feelings do not go away over time, continue to get worse, or affect daily life, they could be a sign of PTSD.
Other symptoms of PTSD include:
Nightmares and flashbacks
Avoiding places, events, people, or things that bring back bad memories
Strong feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or shame
Trouble sleeping or concentrating
Continuous feelings of fear or anger
Loss of interest in activities and relationships that used to be enjoyable
Self-destructive behavior, such as drug or alcohol abuse
Frightening or unwanted thoughts
Difficulty feeling emotions
PTSD symptoms are different for each person and can come and go. The symptoms usually develop within 3 months of a traumatic event. But they can also occur several months or even years later. If you have any of these symptoms and they last more than a month, talk with your health care team.
People with cancer and cancer survivors who have PTSD need treatment because the disorder can keep them from getting needed tests, cancer treatments, or follow-up care. PTSD can also increase a persons risk of developing other mental, physical, and social problems. These can include depression, alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, and loss of relationships and employment.
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Can You Get Ptsd From A Loved Ones Suicide
Losing someone to suicide is one of the most painful experiences a person can ever have. Suicidal grief always hits differently than other types of grief and hurt. Even the thought of a loved one committing suicide gives people goosebumps, imagine having to live with that truth.
When a person commits suicide, they leave behind at least 4-6 loved ones, known as suicide survivors. These suicide survivors are the ones who are most affected by the sudden death of their beloved child, parent, spouse, friend, etc.
There is a variety of research and studies on the impact of a loved ones suicide on suicide survivors. Various experts studied different aspects of the psychological effects of suicide on suicide survivors and found that suicide survivors are at high risk of developing various mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, suicidal contagion, etc.
One of the mental illnesses identified in suicide survivors was post-traumatic stress disorder . Today were going to try to figure out how someone can develop PTSD from the suicide of a loved one
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The death of a family pet can trigger a sense of grief in children that is profound and prolonged, and can potentially lead to subsequent mental health issues, according to a new study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital .
In a paper appearing in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the team found that the strong emotional attachment of youngsters to pets might result in measurable psychological distress that can serve as an indicator of depression in children and adolescents for as long as three years or more after the loss of a beloved pet.
One of the first major losses a child will encounter is likely to be the death of a pet, and the impact can be traumatic, especially when that pet feels like a member of the family, said Katherine Crawford, previously with the Center for Genomic Medicine at MGH, and lead author of the study. We found this experience of pet death is often associated with elevated mental health symptoms in children, and that parents and physicians need to recognize and take those symptoms seriously, not simply brush them off.
Lead author Crawford is a genetic counselor previously with the Center for Genomic Medicine, MGH, now at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. Senior author Dunn is assistant professor with the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit, in the Center for Genomics Medicine, and the Department of Psychiatry. Co-author Yiwen Zhu is a data analyst in the Center for Genomic Medicine.
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What Traumatic Bereavement Looks Like
In a typical grief response, a child or young person may experience a broad range of emotions, often intense and at times difficult to manage, but largely within their capacity to cope. You could describe the child or young person as stepping in and out of their puddles of grief and you would usually see the intensity and frequency of these emotions diminish over time. In traumatic bereavement, strong emotional reactions of fear, anxiety, guilt, anger or shame arise from the trauma of the death and have a negative impact on the child or young person, effectively blocking their ability to grieve and adapt to their loss. They might be described as stuck in a puddle, or even a well, of grief.
The impact of traumatic bereavement might lead to or co-exist with diagnosable mental health problems including PTSD, anxiety, depression, conduct disorders, or any combination of these. There has been a great deal of focus on PTSD as a reaction to trauma. In fact, research has indicated that other difficulties are almost as common as PTSD, with depression likely to be a more common presentation . Even when traumatic bereavement does not lead to a formal mental health diagnosis, trying to manage trauma and loss may be extremely difficult.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Common External Ptsd Triggers
- Sights, sounds, or smells associated with the trauma.
- People, locations, or things that recall the trauma.
- Significant dates or times, such as anniversaries or a specific time of day.
- Conversations or media coverage about trauma or negative news events.
- Situations that feel confining .
- Relationship, family, school, work, or money pressures or arguments.
- Funerals, hospitals, or medical treatment.
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The Complexity Of Reenactment And Ptsd Grief
I have seen repeatedly that people who suffer from Trauma or PTSD related to unresolved grief attract situations that involve death and people who are dying. This is incredibly hard, partly because they might blame themselves for contributing to someones death, but mostly because of the resurfacing of deep wounds of bereavement which they carry with them.
Guilt, blame or self-reproach is a reaction used to deal with an overwhelming emotion like grief and sadness. It is intrinsic to a traumatic experience. It is not that you are a bad influence over someone, but more likely that you are reenacting a distinct set of feelings related to your unresolved residual emotions. In this case loss, grief and bereavement.
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Seven Principles Of Grief
The idea that every loss is a multiple loss is one of the Seven Principles of Grief by J. Shep Jeffries . If you want a giant overview of the grief process, I recommend you read that book. Here is his full list of grief principles:
- Principle One: You cannot fix or cure grief.
- Principle Two: There is no one right way to grieve.
- Principle Three: There is no universal timetable for the grief journey.
- Principle Four: Every loss is a multiple loss.
- Principle Five: Change=Loss=Grief.
- Principle Six: We grieve old loss while grieving new loss.
- Principle Seven: We grieve when a loss has occurred or is threatened.
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I Cant Control My Temper
This can be really scary and frustrating for many trauma survivors, especially Veterans and Active Dutymilitary personnel who have been in places where being angry or aggressive was seen as beneficial. You canlearn to control your behavior when you are upset with the help of this app and/or with in-person therapy.Check out some of the coping tools for anger in the Manage Symptoms section of the PTSD CoachCanada Application.
Tip : Support Treatment
Despite the importance of your love and support, it isnt always enough. Many people who have been traumatized need professional PTSD therapy. But bringing it up can be touchy. Think about how youd feel if someone suggested that you needed therapy.
Wait for the right time to raise your concerns. Dont bring it up when youre arguing or in the middle of a crisis. Also, be careful with your language. Avoid anything that implies that your loved one is crazy. Frame it in a positive, practical light: treatment is a way to learn new skills that can be used to handle a wide variety of PTSD-related challenges.
Emphasize the benefits. For example, therapy can help them become more independent and in control. Or it can help reduce the anxiety and avoidance that is keeping them from doing the things they want to do.
Focus on specific problems. If your loved one shuts down when you talk about PTSD or counseling, focus instead on how treatment can help with specific issues like anger management, anxiety, or concentration and memory problems.
Acknowledge the hassles and limitations of therapy. For example, you could say, I know that therapy isnt a quick or magical cure, and it may take a while to find the right therapist. But even if it helps a little, it will be worth it.
Encourage your loved one to join a support group. Getting involved with others who have gone through similar traumatic experiences can help some people with PTSD feel less damaged and alone.
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Can A Suicide Survivor Develop Ptsd
If we look at the evidence presented by mental health experts showing that suicide survivors can develop mental illnesses and one of them is post-traumatic stress disorder . Therefore, the possibility that a suicide survivor will develop PTSD is the most likely.
Why does a suicide survivor develop PTSD, you ask? Knowing that the one you loved so much committed suicide can be devastating for you. Its one of the most traumatizing experiences of your life.
Especially in brutal and violent suicide cases, the survivors of the suicide are in shock and this shock can trigger stress and anxiety in a person. Suicide survivors who witness the attempt or find the body are very likely to develop PTSD.
Any stressful event can cause trauma, and it can also be traumatizing when a loved one commits suicide. Anything related to the suicide attempt causes stress and can trigger PTSD, such as the rope they used to hang themselves, the drug they overdosed on, etc.
Healing Tasks For The Grieving Person Or Family
As Ive said before, everyones grief is different, but the Jeffries book that I mentioned before lists five things that you might do as you mourn your dogs death or loss. I wanted to share this with you because you may be more familiar with the outdated idea that there are stages. Instead, we simply encounter grief in waves and eventually work our way through these five tasks in our own personal order.
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