Mental Health Resources for Families Dealing with Trauma
The loss of a loved one can be traumatic for surviving family members. If the death was caused by somebody’s wrongdoing, the trauma may be compounded in the journey for just retribution. There are resources available to families in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia who are coping with the aftermath of a wrongful death.
If you or someone you love are in crisis, call 911 or the mental health lines below:
New Brunswick: 1-800-667-5005
While no amount of money can take away your pain, if your loved one was killed because of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. There is a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death claim. Family members of wrongfully deceased accident victims in Nova Scotia have only one year from the time of their loved one’s passing in which to pursue legal action. Contact us today at Preszler Injury Lawyers for a free initial consultation with our wrongful death lawyers and see what legal options may be available to you.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is a persisting emotional response that results from a traumatic event or series of events. It can often feel overwhelming, causing significant distress. People may feel powerless, unable to stop or alter the course of events. Examples of traumatic events include violent crimes, car accidents, and the death of loved ones. You may experience trauma if you have been involved in a traumatic event, or if a traumatic event has happened to someone close to you. In some cases, trauma may lead to mental health issues that can cause long term disability.
Common Reactions to Trauma
Everyone responds to traumatic events in different ways, and processes grief uniquely. Grief is a natural process that often affects every aspect of one’s life. Children look to adults for examples of how to cope with grief. Adults, then, often feel extra pressure to put on a brave face and pretend to appear more composed than they truly are. Remember, the suffering caused by trauma can take many forms, and often fluctuates. Healing takes time.
Some common reactions to traumatic events may include:
- A sense of emotional numbness or shock
- Feeling very tired/fatigued
- Feeling anxious or stressed
- A sense of “high alert,” being watchful for any additional harm
- A sense of acute protectiveness over friends and family
- Acute emotional states
- Fear of taking action or moving to/from certain locations due to possible risk of dangers
Within a family, individuals may have very different responses to the same traumatic event and may need different resources to help in their healing.
As a starting point, here are some offers of approaches to consider:
1. Practice Self-Care
When dealing with the aftermath of a trauma such as the wrongful death of a loved one, everyday activities that were once easy may become unbearable. You may be caring for the well-being of your family members, but it is important to care for yourself as well.
- Rest. Trauma takes an immense toll on the body and can be profoundly exhausting. Allow yourself enough time to sleep at night. Take naps during the day if you feel the need.
- Eat. You need nourishment to survive, and coping with trauma is extra stress on the body. Try to prepare healthy, regular meals for yourself, or ask someone else to help you with food.
- Ask for help. You deserve the love and care of others. When you need, reach out to friends, family, or mental health professionals for support.
- Keep active. Exercise, go for walks, visit with family and friends, engage in activities you have loved or that are new to you. Not only can these things bring a sense of purpose to your life, but they might also help connect you with others in meaningful ways.
- Keep up with your finances. As difficult as it may be, making sure that your bills are paid is an essential part of taking care of yourself and your family. Do not be afraid to ask for help with this if you need it.
Remember: healing takes time. Taking the space you need and seeking out even the smallest joys from the everyday can bring immense benefits in your recovery.
2. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness practice has long been recommended by mental health professionals as a valuable tool in the healing process. With many different approaches and disciplines, the underlying principle of mindfulness is to pay attention to the present moment – what is happening within and without you right now. The main goals of this practice are to:
- Calm your mind
- Cultivate your concentration
- Regulate your emotions
- Change negative thought patterns
- Reduce both physical and emotional stress and pain
- Connect with your mind, body, and spirit
- Nurture kindness and compassion for yourself and those around you
- Cultivate inner peace
3. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
The aftermath of a trauma such as the wrongful death of a loved one, may, in some cases, lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD can cause patients to re-experience traumatic events, or have vivid nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts about the event.
Symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Consistent exhaustion, anxiety, suicidal or depressed thoughts
- A sense of helplessness
- Overwhelming stress
- Uncontrollable anger
- Lack of interest in friends, family, activities you once enjoyed
A licensed mental health professional, such as a psychotherapist, may be able to help. One type of counselling, called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), is known to be effective for PTSD. An important component of CBT is learning the connections between your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and how you might cultivate healthy approaches to deal with stress.
4. Grief Counseling
There are grief and bereavement services available through the provincial governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that may help you and your family cope with the loss of a loved one. Licensed grief counselors can create a safe, confidential environment in which you may speak openly about your loss and any feelings you may be experiencing.
Sessions with a grief counsellor are usually an hour long. Some people feel significant relief after only a few sessions, while others may need more time. Counselling services might be conducted at hospitals, in private offices, over the phone, or online. The database at eMentalHealth.ca can be an excellent resource for finding a grief counselor that can help you.
5. Support Groups
Coping with trauma can be an isolating experience. People often feel as if nobody can really understand what they are feeling. Bereavement support groups bring together people who are all experiencing loss. Depending on the organization, groups might meet in person or online.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority runs a Bereavement Support Group in the fall and winter. With experienced Grief and Loss facilitators, they offer a safe, encouraging space for people to check in, support each other, share questions, resources, and reflections.
6. Learning Guides
There are many free online tools available if you prefer to work with resources at your own pace.
- The Canadian Virtual Hospice offers a series of free modules that may help a person through the different stages of the grieving process.
- The Canadian Red Cross offers a “Psychological First Aid” pocketbook that may help you help yourself and others in a moment of emotional distress.
- Togetherall is a free digital mental health community for people aged 16-29 in Nova Scotia to anonymously support each other and access a range of tools.
How Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer Help Families Dealing with Trauma?
Mental health injuries, such as depression and PTSD that may be brought on by traumatic events such as a car accident or the loss of a loved one, are often overlooked because they can be invisible, making them harder to prove in an insurance claim. However, the long-term effects of mental health injuries can be just as profound as physical injuries, potentially causing a person to lose work and experience a severe reduction in their quality of life.
A personal injury lawyer may be able to assess your individual case and help you understand your legal rights, including any compensation you might be entitled to. Depending on the nature of you and your family’s trauma and subsequent mental health injuries, you may be able to receive financial compensation in a long-term disability claim.
Contact Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Today
The most important thing is that you and your family receive the support you need in your healing process. If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death, you may be entitled to compensation. This may help with bills, including the cost of burial and funeral arrangements, and income you and your family may have lost because of the death. Contact us today to see how our wrongful death lawyers might be able to help you.