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The sudden and unexpected death of someone you love may bring a range of emotions including guilt, shock, anger, sadness, resentment and regret, as well as a number of unanswered questions. Listed below is information that may help you understand your own grief process.

Grief is a broad range of feelings and behaviors that are common after a loss. The most commonly described reactions during the process of grief are shock, denial, anger, guilt, depression, acceptance, and growth. Some people experience the grieving process in this order. Most often however, a person moves back and forth through several of these emotions at the same time, experiencing them in different degrees. It is important to understand that everyone grieves differently. Grief is an individual experience that is unique to each person and to the relationship he or she had with the deceased.

Normal Grief 

Normal grief encompasses many feelings and behaviors that are common after a death. Normal grief is manifested through feelings, physical sensations, cognitions, and behaviors.

If you would like more information in normal grief, please refer to the Strength for Caring website.

Complicated Grief

It is possible for the pain of grief to become so severe that it interferes with one’s ability to function in daily life.  Complicated grief moves beyond normal grief in that it is the amplification of grief to the point that a person is overwhelmed, resorts to maladaptive behavior, or remains interminably in the state of grief without progression of the mourning process towards completion.  It may involve behaviors that do not move toward assimilation or accommodation but instead lead to stereotyped repetitions or extensive interruptions of healing.

If you would like more information about complicated grief, please refer to the Mayo Clinic website.

Grieving a Sudden Death

Death due to a sudden or traumatic event may raise many complex issues for the survivors.  The grief process is often different from the grief that follows an expected death.  Homicides, suicide, or accidents can create special problems for surviving friends and family members.  Many of these problems compound the grief response.

The grief response following sudden loss is often intensified since there is little to no opportunity to prepare for the loss, say good-bye, complete unfinished business, or prepare for bereavement.  Friends and family members are forced to face the death of a loved one without warning.  This type of loss may generate an intense grief response such as shock, anger, guilt, depression, despair, and hopelessness.

Grief Resources

Bullet Johnson County Crisis Center:
Phone :  319-351-0140
The Johnson County Crisis Center offers many free and confidential services.  A counselor is available through the crisis line 24/7/365

Bullet Horizons Survivors Program:
Phone :  319-398-3943
The Survivors Program addresses the needs of persons who are survivors of homicide victims or vehicular homicide.  The program offers crisis intervention, individual counseling, criminal justice system advocacy, referral services, assistance in filing for compensation, community education, a long-term support, and a support group. Services are confidential and available at no cost to the clients.

Bullet The Compassionate Friends:
Phone :  887-969-0010
The Compassionate Friends is a self-help support organization that offers friendship, understanding, and hope to bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings.  Their services include educational information and opportunities, online and local support groups, monthly newsletters, a national magazine, resources, and conferences.

Bullet First Candle:
Phone :  800-221-7347
First Candle is a resource for those who are dealing with the loss of an infant child due to stillbirth, sudden death, or other unexpected infant death.  Their services include a 24 hour bilingual crisis line, grief resources, conferences and training, message boards, and a number of memorial opportunities.

Bullet Other Resources:

Many hospice programs and funeral homes offer grief services.  Contact your local hospice program or nursing home for further information.

If you have any questions about referral options, contact the Johnson County Medical Examiner Department at 319-339-6197.