Grief after the loss of a loved one due to violence can be an incredibly isolating and traumatic experience, with no one truly understanding your loss. Thus we have outlined 5 ways this form of grief can be understood and processed, which can be used at any point in your grief journey.
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Grief is an incredibly complex emotion, and just like finger prints no two people will experience grief in the same way. When you mix in grief caused through violence, the distress and complexity of the loss multiples. For most people experiencing this form of grief, the main question they ask is why?
Unlike loss due to illness, age or an accident, grief after a violence involves different battles such as legal requirements and survivor’s guilt. It’s important to understand that for this type of grief sometimes a legal result will not always ‘resolve’ your distress. This is because the consequences are focused on the legal side of the law, not the justice side. For some, the only justice that could solve their grief would be to have the lost person back.
It is not uncommon for you to experience confusion or extreme denial after the incident, as the mind processes what has happened. Additionally, anger may also be a dominant feeling, as you wish to take out your negative emotions on the person/s that caused them. Though these are understandable emotions and can act as a starting point when processing grief, they can also hinder your development and journey. No one must adhere to a specific timeline while grieving, but it’s important to understand that sometimes we must be self-aware and consider our personal health during this process.
As mentioned previously, it can be hard for people to process the loss of a loved one often leading to denial. However, another way in which avoidance can show itself is through isolation and negation of places, items or people that remind the person of the grief.
While the mind processes the grief and loss, it might induce a form of PTSD which makes the people involved feel unsafe or in distress. This can couple with survivor’s guilt, making the person experiencing the loss wish to hide away in a safe place. If this is the case then counselling should be considered and requested to your doctor.
How to process the grief
Though there is no cookie-cutter way of processing the grief, we have selected and catered some ways in which this form of grief can be worked through.
Remembrance: There will most likely be a place in which the lost person was laid to rest for remembrance, however this place might not have to tools and comfort you need to work through this type of grief. We recommend creating a personal memorial area perhaps within your house or room that can be looked after and seen when required. This remembrance area doesn’t have to take centre stage in your place of choice, instead it can be placed in a box that is accessed only when you wish. This method helps those grieving dedicate part of themselves to the life and memories they had with the lost person, aiding their acceptance of the loss and grief.
Recording: This form of grief isn’t the most common and by default not the most talked about, thus it’s important to maintain a level of internal communication through letter writing or a personal journal. By writing down thoughts, emotions or memories our minds slowly process and understand what has happened. We suggest this to anyone experiencing sleep deprivation, as research proved that once a thought or issue is written down, the existence of it outside of our own consciousness eases our minds into a better state of calmness.
Routine: For anyone experiencing grief or loss a routine should be introduced as it brings a form of normality back into our lives. Our physical health is just an important as our mental health, and so by creating a routine that includes eating times and exercise such as walking this ensures you are less likely to fall into potentially dangerous habits. If you are enduring a particularly difficult grieving process, then adding in little activities over the course of a few weeks could work better than introducing a full 9 to 5 schedule. Remember that you are in control of your routine and you can change it or add to it when you want to.
Remember Boundaries: If your loss has led to some media involvement or local people wanting to know what happened, do not feel ashamed to tell them that you simply do not want to talk about it. Your health and grief journey is more important than their curiosity. Instead, discuss these boundaries with close friends so you can create a plan concerning what you wish to avoid for now, and what goals you would like them to help with. Having this conversation could be difficult but it will help you in the future, and will give those around you a greater understanding of your situation without any unwanted questions.
Reinforce Conversation: Talking to those involved, your close friends, online communities or health care professionals will provide you with guidance and reassurance throughout your grief journey. Grief is a personal journey, however discussing issues or problems can help you through your process as those you trust provide you with advice and helpful opinions.
Though everyone’s grieving process is different depending on circumstance and situation, Live On will continually support those in need of help and support. We will add more resources and tools for anyone experiencing grief in its many forms.
Visit our Helpful Websites page for links to helplines and other centres. There’s no shame in asking for help.