8 things to think about immediately following a traumatic loss

  • Start gathering your support system around you. You will want to and need to express strong feelings about what happened and how you feel. It isn’t healthy to suppress these urges. Having trusted family and friends around who can listen and share memories will be important now.
  • Have a support member start notifying the people who most need to know. It helps to notify those who can easily contact others for you. Some people will need to be notified in person.
  • Identify those in your support system who will be responsible for protecting your privacy from the media. You will be approached by reporters. Determine how you will deal with their questions. Decide if you will watch the news coverage or not. You may want to record news for a later time.
  • Try to get some rest and think about your own health. Contact a family doctor, grief counselor, and clergy. Get time off from work if possible. You will be easily distracted. Be very careful driving now.
    Do not try to maintain an appearance of false strength. Be honest with others about your feelings. Nobody expects as much from you as you do right now.
    Know that everyone grieves differently.
    You will experience physical and emotional symptoms of grief beyond your control. Be prepared for them.
    Try to eat, get rest and even walk a bit if possible.
    Don’t let people take advantage of you now.
  • Funeral arrangements will need to made soon. Religious observances may need to be communicated to the authorities and those handling the body of your loved one as soon as possible. ┬áBe sensitive to the input of those closest to your loved one when making arrangements, but keep the number of decisions to a minimum.
  • Talk to police further – get an understanding of the case
  • Other difficult things you may be called upon to do:
    Identifying the body will be emotionally difficult. Have someone go with you.
    If you are a witness, police and others may need to question you.
    Make priorities for what is most important right now and don’t do less important things.
    You may need to reclaim personal belongings.
  • Dealing with other legal matters related to the death:
    The funeral director will obtain the death certificate and help you determine how many copies to ask for.
    If a will exists, locate it immediately.
    Begin dealing with the associated costs of the death.
    Begin filing insurance and other related claims.
    Don’t make life-changing decisions right away or without consulting with a trusted person.
    You may want to consider a memorial gift or request contributions in your loved one’s memory.
    (Excerpt from What to Do When The Police Leave: A Guide for the First Days of Traumatic Loss by Bill Jenkins)