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What is grief?

Grief is our response to a loss, such as losing someone we loved or who was significant in our lives in some way. Grief can also be experienced when other types of losses occur, such as when someone is seriously injured due to road trauma and they can no longer live the life they knew before the crash. While grief is a normal and expected response to loss, it can feel very frightening because of the intensity and unpredictability of feelings we may experience. Everyone grieves differently and there is no “right” way to grieve.

Grief can have profound and significant effects on all aspects of our life. We can experience a range of emotions from fear, shock, disbelief, sadness, and regret through to relief. Grief can impact how we think about ourselves and the world around us and effect our relationships with others. Our behaviour can change and we can experience strong physical reactions, with some people experiencing an increase in pain and anxiety symptoms. Common reactions to grief and loss can include:

Looking after yourself

When experiencing grief and loss, it can be difficult to think about caring for ourselves when our life has been turned upside down. Taking even a small amount of time for self-care can have a positive impact on your ability to function day-to-day. Self care can include:

  • Look after your health by eating regularly, sleeping and exercising to reduce the stress on your body and mind.
  • Try to keep a normal routine
  • Try to delay making important decisions for 6-12 months, especially those that can’t be reversed.
  • Keep a journal or diary where you can freely express what you feel by writing or drawing.
  • Create a memorial, personal ceremony or ritual to honour your loved one.
  • Make something as a memorial for your loved one’s life or do something active in your loved one’s name e.g. donate money or time to their chosen charity or participate in a fundraising walk.
  • Join an online group to share with others who’ve had similar experiences.
  • Safely release excess energy by doing something physical such as walking, cycling, gardening, going to the gym or swimming.
  • Engage in activities you find soothing, comforting and relaxing
  • Talk to family and friends, share memories and stories as well as thoughts and feelings.
  • Let other people help you if they offer.
  • Attending grief counselling where you can express your feelings in a safe environment.

Grief doesn’t have a timeline and it is common for grief to be triggered again at different points in time. This can sometimes happen during significant events, special occasions and anniversaries. Your reactions can feel just as intense and raw as they were shortly after the loss. It can be helpful to acknowledge and prepare for these times. Find out more about coping with grief during special occasions and anniversaries.

When to seek further help

Most people learn to live with their loss without seeking professional help through using their resources and with support from family and friends. When a death occurs suddenly, unexpectedly or in very traumatic circumstances, such as with a road crash, this can sometimes make grief more acute or complicated. It can be helpful to access additional support like a GP or counsellor if you are unable to cope with everyday activities.

Our dedicated team of counsellors provide a non- judgmental, confidential, free counselling and support service. Counselling is offered face-to-face, via telephone or video call for anyone affected by road trauma in Western Australia regardless of when the crash occurred or your level of involvement, direct or indirect. Contact us if you would like to book an appointment at 1800 004 814 (free call) or [email protected]

Find out more

Injury Matters acknowledges and respects the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the custodians of the land on which we work, live and build our lives, families, and communities. We pay our respects to the First Nations People of this country, their cultures and Elders past, present and emerging.

Injury Matters strives to be culturally sensitive as we represent the Western Australian community in our imagery. Please be advised that our website or resources may contain images, videos, or voices of people who have since passed away.

If any material causes concern, please contact us on (08) 6166 7688.

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