Archives for Unspeakable Loss


The Loss of A Child to Suicide: Complicated Pain

The loss of a child is an unspeakable trauma. When that death is caused by suicide, the pain becomes more complicated.

There are 39,000 deaths a year by suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the United States among 19-14 year olds and 15-14 year olds, and the second leading cause among 25-34 year olds. Spanning the ages, each of those who have taken their lives is someone’s child.

On hearing of the suicide of her 18-year-old son, singer Marie Osmond shares, “I thought someone had run a knife into my heart.”

The agony of losing a child by suicide is complicated by a number of factors:
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The Ohio Kidnapping Case:The Moral Injury of Witnessing Atrocity

In the past two weeks it has been difficult to be anywhere without reading or hearing about the Ohio Kidnapping, 10 year captivity, sexual abuse, torture and beatings causing miscarriages to three young woman and one daughter, locked in a neighborhood house by one man.

Both in and outside of my office people have commented and questioned:

How does something like this happen?
I can’t watch the news anymore.
How could the neighbors not know?
Why is...
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Surviving and Succeeding in Face of Uncertainty: Six Strategies

Events like the Boston Marathon Bombing, Hurricane Sandy’s Devastation, The Newtown CT School Shooting, and now the deadly earthquake in Nepal echo earlier events and assaults us with the uncertainties of life.

The reality of the sudden horror for those in Nepal terrified as they dig for loved ones and struggle to find safety starkly reminds us how connected we all are at moments of disaster.

Such events undermine our necessary denial that life is predictable, that...
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Understanding Anger in the Aftermath of Trauma and Disaster

“Is Anyone Else Angry?”
Trauma theorists tell us that while traumatic events are in themselves physically and emotionally assaultive, it is often the emotions suffered after the smoke clears and the media goes home that become painful and disruptive to our recovery. One of these is anger.

Anger in the aftermath of a traumatic event, be it the loss of a child, the destruction of one’s home, a life-threatening diagnosis or the...
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Authentic happiness

Coping with the Holidays: Family Bonds and Family Binds

While many may aspire to a Hallmark Holiday Season, the reality is that the holiday season involves real people in real families doing the best that they can do.

Most families are a group of related people of different ages with a mix of personalities, needs, feelings and expectations. They may be a nuclear family, an extended family, a reconstituted family or a blended family. In any case, they share an identity as family and, as such, consciously and unconsciously have an impact upon each other.

Their lives can be touched by the joy shared by one family member, the excitement of another and the heartache and loss of still another –sometimes all on the same day.

Most would agree that at times of pain and joy, families are the greatest source of support and the greatest source of applause. They can also be the greatest source of stress.

Holidays seem to turn the volume up on all possibilities.

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charlie Walton

Connecticut Catastrophe: How Do You Face The Loss of Children?

One of our necessary beliefs is that children are safe in school with their teachers. One of the reassurances we make to our little ones is that nothing bad will ever happen in Kindergarten.

Today a small community in Connecticut saw those beliefs shattered as eight adults and 20 children were violently killed.

What do you say when children are killed?

The most realistic answer, I have found is given by author, Charlie Walton, a...
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Finding New Meaning In Life After Trauma:Three Guidelines

This weekend the Wounded Warrior Project came to our town. Many had the opportunity to run the 4-mile race next to veterans and their families. The t-shirt of the young man in front of me read “ New Year’s Eve 5K, Afghanistan. ” Many were wearing shirts that read, “ If you Like Freedom- Thank a Vet.”  The father of a vet wore a shirt that read, “ We’ve got them back-Now Welcome...
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Recognizing and Understanding Depression After Trauma

Disaster and trauma studies often focus on identifying the incidence of PTSD as the sequel to traumatic events.

Early interventions with those affected after a disaster or traumatic event increasingly utilize psycho-education to clarify and normalize common post-traumatic stress reactions and coping strategies.

While mentioned as a possible response, the high incidence of depression after trauma is less delineated and often goes unrecognized by those suffering.

Depression Occurs after Trauma:

A Rand corporation study reports that nearly 20 percent of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan - 300,000 in all - report symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or major depression.
In the first long-term study of the health impacts of the World Trade Center (WTC) collapse on September 11, 2001, findings indicate that seven percent of police officers were diagnosed with depression, nine percent with PTSD and eight percent with panic disorder. Twenty eight percent of other rescue and recovery workers had symptoms of depression.
A survey of survivors from the Oklahoma City bombing showed that 23% had depression after the bombing.
Depression affects approximately 15 percent to 25 percent of cancer patients.
After a myocardial infarction, the incidence of major depression is from 15 percent to 20 percent, and an additional 27 percent of patients develop minor depression.

Both major depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occur frequently following traumatic exposure, both as separate disorders and concurrently.

Depression is the most common disorder suffered in conjunction with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Depression is nearly three to five times
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common trauma symptoms

The Psychological Importance of “Our Stuff”

Well beyond the necessities and somewhere between collecting and hoarding…we all have ‘stuff.’

Be it the toy truck, the pasta bowl, the piano, the silver earrings or the old books, we all have stuff because psychologically we need stuff.

Sartre holds that "to have" (along with "to do" and "to be") is one of the three categories of human existence…

Wired for Stuff

Famous psychologist, Donald Winnicott, tells us that long before we could verbalize the need, we transitioned from merged oneness with mother to “transitional objects,” the favorite blanket, pacifier, stuffed animal, or a piece of cloth that was attributed a special value as a means of making the shift from mother to genuine object relationships.

That said, our relationship with objects, “our stuff” never stops. It unfolds throughout our life; reflecting who we are, where we are, whom we are connected with and what we need to be ourselves.

One of the reasons we find it easier to ask others rather than ourselves, “Do you really need this stuff?” is that the actual value of anything is primarily a function of our investment in it and/or our interaction with it. We give “stuff” value and meaning.
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