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Grief After the Wrongful Death of a Loved One

Complicated GriefEveryone grieves differently after the loss of a loved one. However, wrongful death survivors may experience more intense and complicated grief than most. When someone else’s negligent actions claim the life of your loved one, you may experience the following:

Intense Questioning

After a loved one dies, many people are consumed by the question of “why.” Why did their loved one die? Why did this loss happen now? Questions about the meaning of life, death, spirituality, and similar concepts may arise. This type of questioning tends to be more intense when a loved one dies unexpectedly due to violent or negligent actions of another party.

Deep Denial and Shock

Because of the sudden and sometimes violent nature of wrongful deaths, survivors may experience a deep level of denial and shock. Generally, people think of shock as the first stage of grief. In fact, the Kubler-Ross model defines the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

However, these stages were initially developed to map how people accept terminal diagnoses. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, you may experience all these stages, though not necessarily in order or one at a time.

When dealing with a wrongful death, you may experience shock and denial as well as other emotions. You may even circle back to shock frequently throughout the grieving process. Many find that they experience additional stages of grief after a wrongful death.

Intense Anger

When dealing with the wrongful death of a loved one, you may feel angrier than other grieving people. You may be furious with the person or entity who carelessly caused your loved one’s death. Anger is a natural response to this type of loss, however, it’s important to work on finding constructive ways to deal with this powerful emotion.

Some wrongful death survivors and victims of violent crimes find that forgiveness helps reduce anger. However, you are not obligated to forgive the person who caused your loved one’s death. That is a personal choice and if you do decide to forgive, remember that you set the timeline. You don’t have to forgive based on anyone else’s terms.

Lack of Understanding from Others

Unfortunately, others may not understand what you’re dealing with after a wrongful death. Many people in your life may have never suffered through the death of a loved one, or perhaps they’ve lost loved ones to old age and illness. They might not understand how to support someone who is grieving after a sudden wrongful death. They may not be able to offer you the support you need through this time because they have not experienced it themselves.

Even those who have experienced the loss of a loved one and are empathetic to grief may not understand the complexities of your situation. Traumatic grief tends to differ substantially from other types of grief, and as a result, you may feel isolated or misunderstood. You may want to join a support group for wrongful death survivors or find a bereavement counselor who has experience with wrongful death.

Complicated Grief

Complicated grief can happen after a wrongful death. This type of grief involves having trouble living life and feeling intense sorrow for a year or more after the death. You may not be able to think about anything else. You may struggle with routine tasks and conversations or neglect to care for yourself.

Some people with complicated grief are consumed with reminders of their loved one. Others try to avoid those reminders. You may struggle to accept the death while feeling numb, detached, bitter, or isolated. All of these feelings are normal to an extent. Seek help if the symptoms of complicated grief are disrupting your ability to live a normal life.

In extreme cases, complicated grief can lead to suicidal thoughts or feelings. If you are thinking of harming yourself, call 911 or contact the suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Support is available for you, right now.

Loss of Support

The death of a child, spouse, or close family member living with you can be extremely challenging. In addition to grieving the loss of that person, you also must deal with many secondary losses, including significant changes to your daily life. When dealing with the wrongful death of a close loved one, you may lose your emotional and financial support system.

If you lost a parent, you miss out on the guidance they would have provided throughout your life. If your spouse dies, you lose companionship and emotional support. These losses make dealing with wrongful death even more difficult.

Legal Matters

After a wrongful death, you it’s hard to focus on grieving and reclaiming your life. You may have to deal with bringing forward a wrongful death lawsuit so that you can recoup damages related to the death.

It’s important to work with a lawyer who has successfully handled wrongful death cases and is committed to giving you compassionate, personalized attention. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we offer our deepest sympathies as you deal with your loss. Although we can never undo this tragedy, we may be able to help you recover financially. Contact us today.

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