Traumatic duel: definition, symptoms and how to overcome

Death and mourning are events that cannot be escaped. Still painful, the life cycle forces us to go through these stages, to overcome them and to adapt again to life as best we can.

The problem is, contrary to popular belief, time doesn’t cure everything and not all deaths are created equal. The closeness of the connection to the deceased, the situation in which the death occurs, the external support and the personality traits of the grieving person (the one who loses a loved one) are some of the variables that influence resolution or resolution. stagnation of the duel.

    What is traumatic grief?

    Traumatic duels are those that occur with the death of one or more people in a surprising situationUnexpected and unjust, such as terrorist attacks, terrorism, murders, natural disasters or accidents, among others, are perhaps the worst prognosis, with the death of a child, which was considered to be one the worst losses a human being can suffer. This is why I want to talk not only about death and bereavement, but especially this kind of trauma that is so unfair and difficult to overcome.

    Not only does death hurt, but special attention should be paid to post-traumatic stress:

    When we talk about trauma of any kind, psychologists ignite in our brain the alert of post-traumatic stress from which the patient may suffer: re-experimentation of what has happened, nightmares, avoidance of stimuli reminiscent of the patient. event, dissociative states, anxiety attacks, insomnia, hypervigilance … When there is this type of symptomatology, the duel becomes more complicated and can stagnate in some of its phases.

    Painful emotions: shame and guilt

    In a duel, it is normal to feel anger and sadnessIt is totally adaptive and necessary to get used to a new reality without the deceased. But feeling guilty and ashamed can be the start of unresolved grief. Guilt is often felt for not being the ones to die, with repetitive, obsessive thoughts surrounding the “what if …” or “should …” (what if I hadn’t taken the train / if it hadn’t insisted on coming / I shouldn’t have told him this or that, I should have helped him take care of him, I should have paid more attention to him …).

    Shame arises in the face of the society that follows your life, for being “different” or for not wanting to show our feelings in public. Both emotions can block the resolution of the loss, not only at a mental level, but at a sensorimotor (body) level, leaving unconscious memories in the body that block the grieving process.

    to hate

    Another emotion that can hinder the resolution of grief is hatred, especially if it is due to an accident, terrorist act or murder. Hatred towards the perpetrator of injustice blocks progress in the stages of mourning, leaving the person anchored in the past and with it in pain.

    What can be done to overcome death?

    To say that a person has overcome the death of a loved one, they must accept the loss. Duels typically have a series of non-linear phases (although they do occur sequentially), but it’s common for there to be setbacks or mixed emotions. For didactic reasons, I will present them in series: denial, anger, sadness, negotiation and acceptance.

    • In this article, you have more information: “The 5 stages of grief (when a loved one dies)”

    1. Denial of reality

    The first is, as the name suggests, to deny the reality, Do not believe what happened. Indeed, the strong emotional impact of the loss would be unbearable on a conscious level, so our minds use this defense to cushion the blow of the news, at least momentarily.

    2. Anger, sadness and negotiation

    Then he moved on to anger, followed by sadness and negotiation (negotiating with life the new present reality, starting to confront the person in the past, seeing the new way of living, etc.) and finally come to accept that nothing is like before.

    As I said, the phases can mix, this is normal, what is pathological or worrying is to anchor in one of the phases, like the person who years later continues to prepare the table of the dead as if it were still among us (that would be a denial of reality).

    3. Acceptance and hope to go on living

    In order to overcome a loss, we must take an active role as agents of our own mental change. to be able to move from pain to the hope of living.

    Therapy: processes that help us cope with severe grief

    This is why psychologists prefer to speak of dueling activities rather than phases or stages. If you are feeling the pain of a loss, follow these tips:

    1. Express the pain

    Being positive is good and can help get over grief, but death, at least in our culture, hurts. It is essential to express emotions that do not give us pleasure, these are anger, pain, guilt, sadness, loneliness … So we free the mind and body to contain them without expressing them. . To overcome an emotion, you have to give yourself the right to recognize it, name it, feel it and experience it. Only then will it happen. He looks for a place and a time to remember the dead, to miss him, to mourn his absence. It hurts, but it heals.

    2. The pendulum

    It is true that negative emotions need to be expressed, but we have to go on living life. This is why we have to do the pendulum exercise, where we go from one state of sadness to another of vitality. We must not stay at one end or the other. We must mourn death but also continue to enjoy (as best we can in the first few moments) the good things. Many people think they are not allowed to feel emotions such as joy or relief, but if they do arise, they need to be experienced.

    Death brings us ambivalences and mental conflicts, accept them and live them, As in the previous point, is the first step to overcome them. Don’t judge yourself, just listen.

    3. The tribute and the supports

    Worshiping the dead helps people think what happened is a fact. This is why, in major catastrophes or in murders, we see how tributes are paid on the social level. The same goes for funerals or funeral homes, these are places that help us guess what happened. A more intimate homage can also be paid, in solitude, but let us remember that, even if we feel alone, people we trust are a help to move forward.

    4. make a coherent account of what happened

    The human brain needs to understand and does it through stories, metaphors and tales. That’s why, to overcome what happened, we need to make sense of it and create a cohesive story. Talking about it, looking for explanations, gathering facts, formulating a narrative that brings together past, traumatic, happy and future events, helps to overcome what happened. It can even be written in the form of a short novel.

    The key is not just to remember the negative, but the whole story, with good and bad memories, so as not to idealize the dead person or stay with the moment of his death (or burial, wake, etc. ). .

    5. Adjust to the new life

    Assuming the other person is gone, we have to assume that there are roles that no one else will or that need to be taken on by other people, that our lives will change because someone has to do what the other person does. deceased did. Internal changes, growths and losses must also be taken into account, Duels of future expectations and past memories.

    6. Farewell is not forgotten

    We have to say goodbye to the victim, but not forgetting, but relocating her in our lives one way or another. We have to find ways to bring in the person who is gone at the same time as we continue to live and move forward. Remembrance can produce nostalgia, but each person who crosses our life leaves us a signal, a teaching. Realizing this helps respect your life, your death, and your memory.

    7. EMDR therapy, sensorimotor therapy and hypnosis

    Especially in traumatic duels it is important to go to therapy. If you see that even by doing all of the above, you are unable to overcome the loss of your loved one, there is still time to seek professional help. EMDR therapy, sensorimotor therapy, and hypnosis are proven techniques that will help you overcome your pain. Ask your trusted psychologist.

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