Coping After a Loved One’s Fatal Accident

No words can describe the loss of a loved one. It is even worse if it is from a wrongful death because it is often unexpected and involves anger towards the at-fault party. 

When you lose a loved one in a fatal accident, the primary emotion that you will be feeling is grief. 

There are five stages of grief, as detailed by famous psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Understanding these phases is important so that you know what to expect as the days pass by. This also helps people to know that their journey and feelings are completely normal.

Five Stages of Grief

1. Denial

Denial is a common defense mechanism for all losses and puts a shield between a person and the overwhelming feelings caused by the situation. In a loved one’s fatal accident, for instance, one might convince themselves that the other person is just away and will return.

During this period, the grief and sorrow are not intense because the mind has chosen to actively deny the loss. As this stage advances and denial wears off, the pain kicks in and leads to lots of anger.  

2. Anger

As you begin to see the reality clearly, you may feel angry at a lot of things. Anger masks our feelings. Where there are emotions like pain, hurt, sorrow, helplessness, and so on, a person who just lost a loved one will redirect these through anger.

This anger can be directed towards an object or person who, in logical terms, is not to blame for the loss. It is also possible to see the detrimental effects of this anger towards people on the receiving end, but the emotions can be so intense that it supersedes rational thinking.   

3. Bargaining

Bargaining after the loss of a loved one may feel something like, “If only I had accompanied him, he would not be involved in the accident.” These bargains are the brain’s normal reaction to the consequent feelings of vulnerability and helplessness after losing a loved one. 

Sometimes, bargaining is accompanied by guilt. The victim feels like they could have done something to prevent the death. 


4. Depression

This form of depression is dominated by feelings of regret, sadness, and sorrow. The process can feel quiet and subtle, but it can also be fraught with confusion and heavy emotions. 

A grieving person might worry about the overall cost of a funeral, other victims of the loss such as children, or the reality of having to say a final goodbye. 

5. Acceptance

In this stage, the victim has come to terms with never having to see their loved one again. This does not necessarily indicate happiness or relief. 

Accepting a loss and coming to terms with your new state of life, however, can help you move on and even help other people sharing your loss.

Seeking Help from a Grief Counselor

Grief manifests in different ways. Some people can go through the process with minimal support from friends and family. This is entirely normal and you should not feel guilty for handling your grief as such.

However, the same feelings can overwhelm other people, that they interrupt their lives in major ways. If you are feeling overpowered by grief, consider talking to a grief counselor. Besides helping you cope with these feelings, a counselor can help you move on after a loss.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim 

Understandably, seeking compensation for a loved one’s death can be the last thing on your mind. You might even feel guilty for thinking about finances at such a time.

However, it is alright and even recommended to begin the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit as early as possible. Hiring an attorney for this will relieve you from all the legal back and forths so that you have time to properly mourn your loved one.



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