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The Reality of Sudden Deaths

April 27, 2016

The term ‘sudden’ death often refers to death that could have been prevented such as homicide, suicide or accidental. These deaths usually carry a stigma and are often confusing and cause anger for people that are affected by them. They defy reason and leave the mourner with a multitude of questions. “Why me?” is a familiar statement that Tu Nidito hears in our support groups.

Although the experience of losing someone we love to death is always difficult, sudden deaths add an extra dimension of pain because there is no time to prepare for this unimaginable event. Shock and denial are seen more frequently since the bereaved had no knowledge that something tragic was about to occur. In addition, many times with sudden deaths, there are legal proceedings that complicate the grief process by not only lengthening or postponing it, but by the media attention that occurs. What should be a private time of grieving, can become a very public event.

For those who are grieving a homicide or suicide, there can also be a social stigma. These deaths can be viewed by some as unacceptable, especially a suicide death. The bereaved may feel ostracized by their community. It is especially important for those who have experienced the sudden death of a loved one, to have the support of others who understand the experience of sudden, unexpected deaths. In the support group setting, this specifically means they need to be with others who have also experienced a sudden death loss. The power of support groups is to be with others who have walked a similar path, in order to prevent the feeling that no one can possibly understand the experience. For this reason, Tu Nidito is careful about the way we place families into bereavement support groups, to ensure shared experiences.

A good example of this was in one of our children’s bereavement support groups a few years ago, a five year old girl who came for the first time shared that her father died, but did not want to share why. As the other children shared who died in their family, and how they died, another girl about the same age, who had been in the group for several months, told the group that her father had died of suicide. The five year old then asked to speak again and said that her father had died from suicide too. This was a magic moment of connection and acceptance. It is our hope that all families who come to Tu Nidito for bereavement support, whether it was a sudden, unexpected death or a death after a prolonged illness, will find comfort, support and hope.

If you need support, please call Tu Nidito. We have many resources to support this difficult time in your grief journey, 520-322-9155.

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