Sudden Loss - the Unexpected Death of Someone Close

Sudden Loss impacts in the case of death or suicide of a family member, a friend, a work companion.

When a person is faced with a sudden loss the event can be very traumatic, and capable of incapacitating the person for some time.

Elisabeth Kubler Ross identified five stages experienced by those confronted with death and dying

Denial and Isolation – Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance

Stages of Sudden Loss

Three important stages can be identified when a loss is experienced.

  1. Bereavement
    a state of desolation involving loss. The person may feel robbed, dispossessed, deserted.
  2. Grief
    the feelings of sorrow, anger, guilt, and confusion that arise when a loss is experienced. Grief accompanies bereavement.
  3. Mourning
    the overt expression of grief, and the usual response to bereavement. Frequently, it is culturally modified and influenced.

Acceptance of Sudden Loss

Acceptance of sudden loss will occur when the person begins to

  1. Acknowledge the Reality of the Loss
  2. Experience the Pain of Grief
  3. Adjust to an Environment in Which the Deceased is missing
    Breath of Life Principles and Procedures

Addressing Sudden Loss

Help survivors as early as possible with the establishment of a caring network

  • Help them identify and express feelings
  • In cases of suicide, address the issues of stigma, shame, guilt and blame in a way that is supportive and non-judgmental

Working with Individuals

Help survivors to live without the deceased

  • Facilitate emotional withdrawal from the deceased
  • Encourage survivors to go on

Ongoing Support

Provide time to grieve

  • Provide for continuing support
  • Educate clients about customary grieving reactions of other individuals to help normalise the experience
  • Allow for individual differences
  • Be sensitive to individuals’ styles