No one can escape experiencing differing forms of loss throughout their lives.

Grief and loss of some sort are unavoidable.  However, many people attempt to ignore their feelings by denying the impact trauma can have on our present and future lives. Some people may quickly gloss things over by claiming that they have accepted, forgiven, and moved on. Others may burrow into addictive behaviors or other dysfunctional ways to numb or block the feelings associated with experienced trauma. Sadly, not dealing with our feelings that occur when we experience trauma leaves us feeling without hope.  When a person processes thoughts and feelings in a supportive environment, hope is often a powerful outcome.
Grief is a natural response to trauma and loss. Dr. Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, identifies stages of grief as denial, isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is important to acknowledge the feelings that arise during each of these stages.  Some people may skip stages, some may repeat stages, some may experience them out of order, and some may not experience them all. In other words, there is no set formula for how each person will experience or move through the stages of grief.
Maia Pellegrini shares, “When grief and loss are left unresolved, they may become like a stealth bomber showing up in covert ways such as sideways anger, guilt, depression, addiction, lethargy, and physical ailments. We see various forms of grief show up while working with victims of abuse. Healing involves more loss of letting go of the old self and familiar things, breaking away from how things have always been done in a family, or letting go of relationships after a lifetime of familiarity. Grief and loss come in so many forms, but what they all have in common is a change in circumstance and a change of course in one’s life. These massive changes can be hard to adjust to and even harder to internalize.”
Dr. Kübler-Ross offered that while each person will experience the stages of grief differently, the grieving process is a normal and healthy expression of emotions. Although emotions such as pain, anger, and fear may bring about discomfort, working through these emotions also has worthwhile rewards. Bearing pain is uncomfortable and we do not like to feel pain. However, exploring our pain can lead to healing, growth, and awareness. Many who are traumatized also feel anger.  Anger can be so strong it can scare us.  However, anger can also lead us to find our assertiveness, strength, and energy. Nobody likes to feel fear.  But fear can be a positive thing as it can lead us to preservation, wisdom, and protection.
Whatever the loss, working through the grief takes time, energy and commitment. It is essential that people who are grieving honor and care for themselves. It is by working through our pain that hope is born. The loss of the old makes way for the beginning of new, with hope evolving from resolved grief and the unknown future waiting to be discovered.
If you need help dealing with unresolved grief from trauma resulting from domestic violence or sexual assault, Crisis Services of North Alabama offers a safe, supportive place for you.  Contact our Jackson County office at 256.574.5826 or our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000.

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