The tendency for people who have been severely traumatised to become emotionally numb, to avoid talking about the issue and shut down can disrupt the grief process. They may also experience feelings of unreality and fear. This can make it very difficult for them to access their inner feelings and to work through the disruptions and losses caused by the traumatic event.

The bereaved person may suffer from ‘survivor guilt’, questioning why they survived when others have died and believing that they could or should have done more to prevent the tragedy.

The memories of the accident or the disaster may dominate the bereaved person’s mind. These memories, particularly if the bereaved person’s loved one died in extremely distressing circumstances, may dominate their thoughts, rather than the memories of the dead person themselves. This can become a diversion from grieving for the person who was killed. In that way the grief process may be disrupted.

The memories of the traumatic death may cause so much distress, that the memories of the person who has died may be actively avoided.

Coping with Grief After a Sudden Death
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