Yesterday, a helicopter crashed in Calabasas killing nine people, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna Bryant. Such accidents are not only tragic for the victims, but also for their friends and family.
Accepting the loss of a loved one is never easy. But when death happens suddenly, as in a fatal accident to someone you are close with, it can evoke a more severe type of grief known as Traumatic Grief.
If you have ever experienced Traumatic Grief, it is important to realize that you are not just mourning the loss; you are also traumatized by it. This can cause your emotions to intensify and become unpredictable.
The pain of loss can feel extremely overwhelming and its helpful to know you might experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions.
In the first days and weeks after a traumatic event, people often experience the five stages of grief stronger and more intensely. With a tragic loss the pain can disrupt your physicalhealth, making it extremely difficult for you to think straight, eat properly or sleep soundly. These are all normal reactions to any death and will intensify if experiencing a
tragic and unexpected loss.
If you find yourself avoiding the loss or looking for answers to give you clarity of the death, know what you are experiencing is natural and time and support will help you heal.
The “five stages of grief”: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance was introduced by Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. These stages are well known throughout our community today, but it is very important to recognize that these stages do not occur sequentially and/or have a specific time limit. Grief in each stage depends on the individual. For example, someone can experience bargaining before denial, or depression before anger. There is no time limit when something or someone you love is taken away. Be patient with yourself and others who are experiencing such loss.
If you find yourself withdrawing from others and retreating into your shell, face-to-face support with other people is extremely helpful to heal from your loss. With this tragic helicopter crash, there will be an influx of individuals grieving. The key is to not isolate yourself even though it might be how you feel. Try to share and express what you are feeling because this can help the burden of your grief easier to carry. Expelling your emotions and gaining support helps the burden of keeping it buried inside.
Join a support group: Seek out support by your peers who have gone through a similar process. Therapy or support groups for grief can help you feel validated, less isolated, learn ways to cope and prepare you for what to expect during this process.
Individual therapy: Individual therapy provides a non-judgmental space for you to navigate through your memories, gain tools to overcome your challenges, and learn ways to be in a world without your loved one.
Kobe Bryant brought so much to the world and fans are shocked to learn of his premature departure from us.
Bryant was called “one of the greatest players in the history of our game” by the NBA’s Commissioner, Adam Silver, for a reason. His legacy will remain with us. Our greatest condolences to all the victims in the helicopter crash. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the friends and family impacted by this tragic loss.
Article written by psychotherapists of Group Therapy LA. This private practice is for individuals who want to live the deeply fulfilling, authentic life they deserve!