Stress Management Following A Tragedy

The loss of a loved one is, of course, a terrible life event to experience. How much worse when the loss is unexpected, and worse yet when the loss of life is attributed to the wrongful activities of another person. Intentional or not, it is shocking to lose a family member or friend due to the avoidable actions of another person.

There are many aspects to the trauma experienced by survivors of wrongful death. The lingering stressors of having a loved one pass can be triggered by sights, sounds, smells and activities that occur around us for many months, and even years.

In my own case, having suddenly lost my father a few years ago, the feeling of what I have described as “an empty place in the back of my mind where he always was” still surprises me with its intensity at times.

The stress that accompanies an emotional trauma can be managed in several ways. Talking to someone such as a friend or counselor can move the difficult thoughts out of the circular thinking that can eat us up, and will help move them into a healthier track. Our thoughts can unintentionally become toxic if we allow them to simmer in isolation. Grief share groups are another powerful way to find that we are not as alone as we may have feared.

In a similar way, massage therapy can lower the ‘stress chemistry’ in our bodies. There is something about human touch that diminishes the impact of stress. A 30-minute massage, once a month can make a huge difference in the tension that is held after an emotional trauma.

When the loss was part of a preventable tragedy, we may have important questions about who is at fault, and what steps should be taken, not just to see justice done, but to make sure others are not injured in the same way. Getting professional help with the legal aspects of the situation can relieve you of the questions about who was at fault, who was to blame, and who should own up to the responsibility of the event so that you can either take action where appropriate, or just put the questions to rest.

The idea that your loved one lost multiple years of positive impact in their world may add to your feelings of loss and anguish. Taking up a hobby, or investing in causes that were dear to your loved one may help you feel that their life was not completely ended, but assist you with making peace with their impact in life.  Serving or volunteering with various organizations – any of these ideas can lend a feeling of lasting impact, as well as giving you, as their survivor, a sense of value, and will help with the stress of the sudden loss of your loved one.

Of course your spine is a major conduit of stress management, too. So I encourage you to take care of yourself after such a loss. Get your spine evaluated and corrected by a Chiropractor with whom you are comfortable. Keeping your spine ‘tuned up’ will help with the tension and allow your coping mechanisms to work at their best.

While the “empty place in the back of your mind” may never actually be filled, it can be mitigated, or softened by means of some combination of these steps.

Another concept that may help is to prepare your own life organized prior to your own departure. Having the details of your life organized will offer your loved ones a gift of peace. The workbook called Quality End of Life Planner, which can help you with this process, is available HERE.

This article was written by Dr. Charles Roost, D.C., owner of Delta Chiropractic Center, and author of the Quality End of Life Planner, as well as several other books on topics pertaining to world view issues.