Mental Health America
sky   In Crisis?
  24 Hour Crisis
  & Suicide Hotline
  (317) 251-7575 or
  (800) 273-TALK

Print Version Increase Font Size Decrease Text Size

Coping with Tragedy

Surviving loss, whether it be the loss of a loved one or the loss of home and security is painful enough, but when the death is sudden it doubles the pain and intensifies the grief. Mourning and recovery are much more difficult for surviving family members, regardless of their age. Many of the survivors will be in denial of the tragedy, some for a very long time. The more sudden and unexpected the death or loss, the harder it is for people to express support. Often, the fear of saying or doing something "wrong" keeps people from offering support when it is so greatly needed.

Here are some ways to help others during such critical times of loss:
  • Acknowledge the loss in some way. Send a card or memorial. Observe a moment of silence at a community event.
  • Offer help to the family. You can do this by preparing a meal, providing transportation or watching your children during the difficult moments.
  • Offer words of sympathy. Speak from the heart, but be mindful of the different ways that people mourn.

Here are some ways to help yourself:
  • Hiding your feelings will not make them go away or ease your pain. Don't be afraid to express your feelings to your loved ones or others that are trying to help.
  • Do your mourning now. Being brave is important, but don't miss an opportunity to cry. It's not self-indulgent, but a sensible way to deal with your emotions.
  • Bear in mind that emotional pain isn't constant. We will love forever, but we don't need to grieve forever to honor that love.
  • Get support from others. Counselors, support groups, bereavement groups, compassionate friends, or other sudden loss survivors are always there to help you through the difficult times. You may find them through a place of worship, hospice or community or social agency.

If your stress doesn't begin to subside, or if it interferes with your ability to function in daily life, then it is time to talk to a friend, doctor or clergy. You may want to make an appointment with a mental health professional because asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness.

Here are a few organizations where you can find help:

The Compassionate Friends, toll free 1-877-969-0010, Renew: Center for Personal Recovery, Berea, Kentucky at 859-986-7878, or log onto the mental health website at

Contact Us

P.O. Box 51
Seymour, IN 47274
Phone: (812) 522-3480
Fax: (812) 524-8176