Grief and Loss During Wartime

Death and wartime are often synonymous. As we see events in Israel and Gaza unfold, death often makes the headlines. These headlines operate in two main ways by:

  • Showing the immediate grief and loss of the situation
  • Stimulating vicarious trauma in those more distant from the situation

A recent article on CNN highlights these two points and how the situation impacts people in this region.

Trauma, Grief, and Loss

Trauma, grief, and loss are uniquely intertwined processes. When someone experiences trauma, there are shifts within a person’s brain and nervous system. This can lead to symptoms of:

  • Hypervigilance
  • Difficulties with sleep
  • Challenges with concentration
  • Interpersonal challenges
  • Issues with trusting others
  • Numbing or experiencing ‘too much’ emotion

The changes inside one’s body is the start of grief and loss related to trauma. No longer can a person internally calm their nervous system or force their prefrontal cortex to stay online when it scans for threats. This complicates one’s ability to have authentic connections with others, experience joy, and calm down to sleep at night.

A person experiencing the effects of trauma on his life.

Another point of grief and loss with trauma is the interpersonal challenges that erupt afterwards. This can create issues with trusting loved ones to thinking people are ‘out to get them.’ As these symptoms appear, others tend to pull away. This can greatly increase loneliness and isolation.

Trauma can lead to negative shifts in how we see ourselves. This directly links with grief and loss since we are not the same person who we were before the traumatic incident. We may feel like ‘shells’ of our old selves or like we are ‘just going through the motions’ of life. Self-esteem and confidence dwindle during times like these.

Vicarious Trauma Through the News

Human beings are curious. With that curiosity, we often follow news headlines or social media information that carry disturbing images, sounds, or details. This can have an unsettling effect on our nervous system as this media is consumed. It is important to find ways that work for you to self-regulate your nervous system.

How to Heal from This Type of Pain?

Sometimes, healing from past trauma and pain is as scary or scarier than the traumatic experiences themselves. Since the person has already experienced the trauma, why go back and try to heal it? Eye Movement and Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an excellent form of therapy to support someone’s healing journey in a gentle manner.

Benefits of EMDR Therapy

  • Having a regulated nervous system
  • Being comfortable in your own body
  • Finding a sense of meaning and purpose in life
  • Experiencing emotions (the challenging ones too)
  • Increases in self-confidence and esteem
  • Feeling like the gloom of the past no longer has its grip on you 

At Revitalize Mental Health PLLC, we provide EMDR therapy to support those healing from past and recent traumatic experiences. Call today, or submit a form here, to see how working with an experienced EMDR therapist can help you!

Location Map: 625 57th Street Kenosha, WI 53140

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