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What is grief?

Grief is a normal response to loss. All human beings will experience loss during their lifetime. There are a number of losses that may be experienced after a road trauma:

  • Loss of your pre-collision physical health
  • Loss of your mental functioning because of an Acquired Brain Injury
  • Loss of your capacity to work, relate, think and feel like you did previously
  • Loss of a loved one
  • In a road trauma, these losses occur suddenly and unexpectedly.


  • Responding to Loss

    Grief is a very individual experience. No two people will grieve in the same way, with the same intensity or for the same length of time. For example, parents grieving over the loss of their child may not understand their partner's way of grieving, and it can seem as though they are going through completely different experiences.

    Early reactions to loss, especially sudden loss, include shock, numbness disbelief and disorientation. These reactions may be followed by an enormous range of intense emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, guilt and a sense of unfairness. You may even feel all these emotions at once which can leave you feeling chaotic and overwhelmed.

    As well as intense feelings, people can experience difficulty with making decisions, concentrating and memory. Over time you will think more clearly.

    Your body may also react to grief. For instance, you may experience aches and pains or an upset stomach. You may find that you are more susceptible to illness and injury than prior to the collision. You may lose your appetite, have trouble sleeping, or lose interest in your usual activities.

    Some people may question their religious or spiritual beliefs and be asking themselves questions that have no answers: WHY? After a road trauma people often think about their own mortality.

    Important Principals to Remember (From McKissock: Coping with Grief)

  • It is normal and healthy to express intense and painful emotions relating to loss
  • Grieving is important for healing the wound of separation
  • A grieving person may experience a wide range of feelings
  • The painful feelings will diminish with time. If they remain intense and prolonged, then professional help may be helpful


  • Self Care Strategies

  • Live one day at a time
  • Some people find that writing a journal and recording your thoughts and feelings can help
  • Continue to look at 'photos and mementos. It is not so helpful to attempt to forget the past as it is to find a way of incorporating the loved one into your new life without them
  • Rituals can be helpful. For example, burning a candle or visiting the grave site and talking to the person can be important for some people
  • Find someone who will allow you to talk openly about your loss


  • Professional Counselling

    Grief is normally a painful process. Most people find that, with the support of family and friends, they are able to accommodate the loss with time. If you find that you are feeling particularly isolated, that you are not managing your daily life for extended periods of time counselling may be beneficial. Some people say that the experience of grief makes them question their sanity, and talking with a counsellor about these worries and fears may assist in alleviating them.