top of page

Challenges Associated with Sudden and Unexpected Loss

Some of the "typical" emotions to a death loss are amplified by a sudden loss, and the individual often needs extra time to understand the loss because of the profound sense of disbelief it induces.

The following are some of the factors that might make coming to terms with the loss more difficult:

Difficulty processing information because the unbelievable nature of the occurrence prevents the person from believing it. In the time immediately following a death or significant loss, many people seek answers to questions like "why" and "how" this occurred.

The individual's coping abilities are decreased as a result of the event's shock and the additional stress that has been placed on them.

A loss of stability and protection is experienced by survivors after a sudden death. As the affected individual tries to come to terms with the "who" that was taken away from his or her environment, anxiety levels rise and ripple effects become apparent in all areas of life.

There was no opportunity to express my condolences or say goodbye, which is a significant source of further emotional anguish for me. There was no chance for the survivor to express or receive sentiments of love and regret, to reflect on memories shared, good and terrible, or to begin making preparations for a future without the deceased.

"The assumptive world is violently fractured: Without time to absorb thechange, the mourner's assumptive world is abruptly destroyed. "The assumptive world is forcefully shattered: Without time to incorporate thechange, the mourner's assumptive world is violently shattered. The mourner's assumptions, expectations, and beliefs, around which she or he has built a life, are challenged, and control, predictability, and security are gone. (Rando 1993).

Some fatalities are considered "ambiguous."

The grief process becomes more complicated when a corpse is lost or cannot be retrieved. Some people's experiences with the World Trade Center tragedy, with planes that have fallen at sea, and with loved ones who are missing in action make it hard for them to change their minds regarding the absence or presence of others.

An individual's response to loss is amplified by factors such as depression, anxiety, and the progression from hope to hopelessness (Boss 1999). Death certificates and other forms of evidence can bring the reality of the loss home. In order to help the mourner get over this uncertainty, it may be necessary to create rituals.


Mimi Rothschild

Mimi Rothschild is the Founder and CEO of the Global Grief Institute which provides Certification training programs forGrief Coach, Trauma Coach, End of Life Coach, and Children's Grief Coach. She is a survivor who has buried 3 of her children and her husband of 33 years. She is available for speaking engagements and comments to the press on any issue surrounding thriving after catastrophic loss. MEDIA INQUIRIES:

bottom of page