A number of major life events can be considered traumatic, even if they are not categorized as particularly violent. Conflict in relationships, significant changes in routine, and loss can be life-changing and result in increased depression and anxiety. While these “little t” traumas, compared to “Big T” traumas, may not sound significant enough to lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress, over time, traumatic loss affects one’s ability to cope and respond appropriately.
Symptoms of Traumatic Loss
Symptoms of trauma aren’t exclusive to “Big T” or “little t” traumas. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, all types of PTSD consist of three groups of symptoms:
- Recurrent and distressing re-experiencing of the traumatic event in the form of dreams, thoughts, or flashbacks
- Emotional numbing and avoidance of anything that may trigger memories of the trauma
- A permanent state of increased arousal
Types of Traumatic Loss
It’s important to note that it isn’t necessarily the specific nature of the death that makes it traumatic, rather how the event is interpreted and experienced by the individual. Common reactions to traumatic loss include separation distress (emptiness, searching, and loneliness) and emotional distress (numbness, disbelief, distrust, anger, and hopelessness about the future).
Four common types of loss include:
- Physical loss of a loved one. Grief is a common reaction to death that doesn’t have a statute of limitations. The process of grieving is often delayed when the nature of the loss is unexpected.
- Loss of the love of a loved one. Breakups, parent divorces, changes in friend groups, and abandonment can feel just as devastating as the physical loss of a person sometimes. Often, this loss of social support can be messy, rather than gradual. Arguments can completely warp one’s sense of self-esteem if young adults believe that these hurtful messages are true.
- Loss of physical ability. Serious injuries are often life-changing events, especially when there is no time to prepare. Athletes who have had to stop playing sports due to injuries often question who they are without the activity they’ve spent years centering their identity around.
- Loss of sense of self. During life transitions, young adults often question their sense of self. It takes a period of adjustment to re-establish who they are and who they want to be, especially after trauma and loss.
Steps to Take Towards Healing
- Take inventory of ways you’ve been affected by loss.
- Accept that your response has been your way of coping, even if it has caused problems in other areas of your life.
- Set realistic goals around how to respond differently.
- Let go of time limits you’ve set around your personal healing.
- Create new positive experiences by engaging in recreation activities and building a stronger support system.
Journey Home Can Help
Journey Home is a transitional living program for girls ages 16-21 that have graduated from a residential treatment center or wilderness therapy. We are the perfect fit for young women who are ready to build upon skills learned in therapeutic settings but recognize they still need guidance and support to further develop their success. Journey Home blends a traditional home setting with positive peer and staff relationships. We believe in the value of good health and healthy hobbies in promoting future success.
For more information, call 801-444-0794. We can help your family today!