Suicide and homicide deaths leave loved ones in shock, and there are a lot of additional secondary losses and traumas that go along with trying to survive. There may be a death investigation, media coverage, court hearings, loss of supports, changes in roles in the family, financial strain, judgement from others, intrusive images about the death even if not there to witness it happen, finding the body, explaining to children what happened and why, feeling pressure to “get over it” from others, and more. Counseling may be helpful, but not in all cases. Each person has unique needs when experiencing a loved one’s homicide or suicide. The SOLOS group is a free support group that is also available and is facilitated by Hope Haven Counseling (see SOLOS tab for more information).
This type of grief includes experiences like loss of a child, stillbirth, miscarriage, sudden unexpected death in accidents/natural disasters, witnessing medical trauma as loved one is dying, and more. There is often posttraumatic stress, guilt, isolation, and great impact to family relationships that need attention in this type of loss. Before the natural grieving process can unfold, people often need to address trauma symptoms such as nightmares, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and avoidance. Once the trauma of the death is addressed, there is more emotional space to grieve fully.
This may include death of a loved one, being the one who is dying, divorce, separation, loss of a job, loss of support, break-up, or other significant losses that people experience. People who are grieving often need a space for their grief to be witnessed without having to worry about taking care of others. There is no getting over a loss; however, healing is possible by learning how to integrate and carry the grief/loss and finding meaning in one’s new identity after the death or loss.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is an evidenced based practice for PTSD and trauma. It can also be used for Complex PTSD (many traumas or long term chronic stress), chronic pain, insecurity, low self-worth, and more. Heidi uses something called theratappers to conduct EMDR instead of the more commonly used light bar. The person identifies past or present traumas or distressing experiences and/or future fears to process in EMDR. EMDR allows the person to direct the process, to go through the emotions of what happened rather than just talking through it cognitively, to become aware of where trauma lives in the body, and to identify and integrate new beliefs about self and others which are more balanced, accurate, and/or healthy than the original beliefs. This model of therapy is one of many offered at Hope Haven Counseling for people looking to do trauma work.