On Dealing With A Tragic Death By Kenneth Czillinger, Reverend
Generally it takes 18-24 months just to
stabilize after the death of a family
member. It can take much longer when the
death was a violent one. Recognize the
length of mourning process. Beware of
developing unreal expectations of
Your worst times usually are not at the
moment a tragic event takes place. Then
you are in a state of shock or numbness.
Often you slide "into the pits" 4-7
months after the event. Strangely, when
you're in the pits and tempted to
despair, this may be the time when most
people expect you to be over your loss.
When people ask you how you're doing,
don't always say, "Fine." Let some
people know how terrible you feel.
Talking with a true friend or with
others who have been there and survived
can be very helpful. Those who have been
there speak your language. Only they can
really say, "I know; I understand." You
are not alone.
Often depression is a cover for anger.
Learn to uncork your bottle and find
appropriate ways to release your
bottled-up anger. What you're going
through seems so unfair and unjust.
Take time to lament, to experience being
a victim. It may be necessary to spend
some time feeling sorry for yourself.
"Pity parties" sometimes are necessary
and can be therapeutic.
It's all right to cry, to question, to
be weak. Beware of allowing yourself to
be "put on a pedestal" by others who
tell you what an inspiration you are
because of your strength and your
ability to cope so well. If they only
Remember you may be a rookie at the
experience you're going through. This is
probably the first tragic death you've
coped with. You're new at this, and you
don't know what to do or how to act. You
Reach out and try to help others in some
small ways at least. This little step
forward may help prevent you from
dwelling on yourself.
Many times of crisis ultimately can
become times of opportunity.
Mysteriously your faith in yourself, in
others, in God can be deepened through
crisis. Seek out persons who can serve
as symbols of hope for you.
NOTE: The above thoughts on coping are
offered by Reverend Kenneth Czillinger
of Cincinnati, Ohio, who for the past 10
years has been involved in working with
the dying and grieving, and more
recently has participated in forming
support groups for parents who have lost
children through death.
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