Sudden Loss

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

There is no form of grief that is ‘easy’ to endure, yet the sudden, unanticipated loss of a loved one can be particularly difficult. Grief and loss challenge our sense of safety, predictability, and feelings of control over our world. Sudden loss challenges these world views in a profound way.

What are common reactions to sudden loss grief?

“But I just spoke with her yesterday”

“I didn’t even get to say goodbye”

“I just can’t believe that this has happened”

While people who have very elderly or sickly loved ones may have time to prepare for an impending loss, death that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly can be a significant shock. Suffering the unexpected loss of a loved one can present unique challenges to a person’s healing process and cause an overwhelming amount of grief.

Grieving the death of a loved one is painful regardless of whether it was expected. But losing the opportunity to prepare for this type of loss or say goodbye to a loved one can pose additional challenges.

When it comes to the grieving process, there is no singular or correct way to cope with loss.

The most important steps you can take to help yourself heal involve

  • Treating yourself with compassion
  • Seeking support
  • Gradually discovering what your healing process looks like for you

Lack of Closure

The way in which a loved one was lost can colour the way you grieve, sudden loss can cause particularly strong feelings of shame, regret, and anger. Additionally, many will mourn the inability to say, ‘I’m sorry’, ‘I love you’ and ‘goodbye’. Closure helps us make sense of the world. Without these key moments, grief may feel more devasting and deep.

Take care of your needs

Accept that it is okay to not be okay for a while. One of the most important parts of the grieving and healing process is acceptance. Accept that the wide range of emotions you may feel throughout this process – from shock, to sadness, anger, and hopelessness – are valid.

Accept that you may not be in a mental space to return to your usual routine as normal, and it’s okay to adapt your activities according to what you’re needing emotionally and socially at this time. Give yourself permission to grieve, to be at a loss for words, to cry, to scream and to feel happiness when it arises.

Give yourself time and grace to go through your own grieving process. Do what you need to and eventually, you will find yourself in a new stage. When the time is right and as you regain your emotional strength, you may be ready to pursue justice, deal with life decisions, and take on your own life goals again. Until that time, find ways to honour your loved one by taking care of yourself, those closest to you, and allowing yourself the space and resources necessary to heal.