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Grief & loss

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”

ELIZABETH KUBLER-ROSS & DAVID KESSLER

What is grief?

Grief is a normal response after the loss of a loved one

Each person’s journey is unique and there is no time limit, there is no right or wrong way of grieving

Grief affects people differently at different times

Common responses to grief

Physical

sleep difficulties, tiredness, muscle tightness, changes in appetite, restlessness

Emotional

sadness, shock and disbelief, numbness, anger, anxiety, guilt and remorse, loneliness and feeling disconnected, emptiness

Fear & Worry

about oneself or other family members is common

Psychological

 preoccupation with the loss, concentration difficulties, tearfulness

Behavioural

withdrawal from others, avoidance, loss of interest in things, impatient with others

Spiritual

shifts in spiritual and personal beliefs

In 2016, our team asked individuals who had lost a family member to sudden cardiac death to complete a survey that includes measures of post traumatic stress and prolonged grief

This study found

Up to 1 in 2 family members have symptoms of prolonged grief

​Up to 1 in 2 family members have symptoms of post-traumatic stress​

Those who witness the death/ perform CPR/ discover the deceased are 4-5 times more likely to have post-traumatic stress or prolonged grief

Trauma

Alongside grief, family members may experience some trauma and anxiety responses.

Trauma responses

 After witnessing the loss of a loved one, individuals may experience: 

distressing memories

flashbacks

nightmares 

urges to try and avoid certain places/people/things 

difficulty sleeping or difficulty concentrating  

Individuals may also experience increased anxiety about themselves, other family members, or within the genetic testing process.

This study highlights that sudden death is not something that you just “get over” and a person experiencing prolonged grief and/or post traumatic stress requires intervention by a Clinical Psychologist.

It’s never too late to consult with a clinical psychologist or grief counsellor.

Some people find it helpful immediately after the death, others find it helpful further down the track.

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