Traumatic Grief After Violent Dying
With Edward K (Ted) Rynearson, MD
Recorded February 2018
Contemporary research indicates there are differences between the bereavement experiences of individuals grieving non-violent versus violent death losses. In fact, studies suggest that violent death can be particularly challenging for mourners on a variety of levels. Individuals bereaved by homicide, suicide, and fatal accident appear to face distinct challenges physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. Many experience shock and horror at the manner of death, a disruption of their assumptive world, traumatic dysregulation of their physiology, relational strain in their social network, an inability to make sense of the death, or a spiritual crisis as a result of the loss. There are a number of factors that may place survivors of violent loss at an increased risk for elevated levels of psychological distress as they struggle in accommodating. The lecture will discuss aspects of poor bereavement outcome in violent death survivors in the form of traumatic grief. More research and greater awareness is needed in relation to these unique and complicating aspects while mourning the sudden, violent death of a loved one. The objective of this lecture is to increase understanding on how this understudied and underserved population copes with the loss of a loved one to violent death while evaluating the clinical implications of high levels of psychological distress, and other factors facing survivors. Drawing on the lecturer’s ongoing research activities and extensive clinical experience with traumatic grief, this presentation will discuss theory, case examples and clinical principles illustrating the inherent differences found in unexpected, violent bereavement, and outline a manualized short term intervention (Restorative Retelling) shown to be particularly helpful in treating this population.