Beyond what I hesitantly call normal grieving there are aspects of death that cause additional issues to complicate the grieving journey. One topic that complicates grief involves trauma.
Trauma for our understanding here has to do with someone being exposed to death or serious injury or sexual assault. Even being threatened with any of these can cause trauma. And simply said, trauma adds another layer to the grieving process. Trauma has an effect on us both emotionally and physically. One expert described the effect of trauma as rewiring the brain. So it is more than emotional upset.
Some who experience trauma also experience flashbacks and nightmares. Flashbacks are waking remembrances that cause us to experience the trauma again like it just happened. Nightmares are like a bad movie that plays in your mind where the ending is always bad. And we feel powerless to stop the movie or to change the ending. But there are things that we can do. First, when flashbacks occur, force your mind to stay in the present. Think of things here and now. You can control your mind. For nightmares, write down the dream using as much detail as you can remember. Then re-write the dream with a different ending. Do this as often as you need to. Exposure to the trauma in this way lessens the fear and terror it will produce.
Other traumatic deaths involve suicide, or murder, or natural disasters or other violent acts.These are complicated issues and I don’t want to go into any detail here. There are resources to help both through counseling and through prayer. God will help you.
One thing all of these issues have in common has to do with our thoughts. Our mind is the soil where either trauma and fear or peace will grow. The key is you. What you allow to dominate your mind will also control your emotions. You may think that God is not who you thought He was and is not able to do what He promised. You will discover that you are not the person you thought you were. And you alone do not have the resources or the strength or the wisdom to sort out the complexities of your situation. The key for you is a healthy, Bible-based diet of self-talk. We control our feelings by controlling our thoughts.
Psalm 43:5″Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”
2 Timothy 1:7″For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
You are not alone in your grief no matter how complicated it is. There are people who love you and will help you. And Jesus is alive and willing to apply His grace to your broken heart.