Dealing with Tragic Loss

When a tragic loss occurs, we often feel shocked, numb, and find it hard to believe it has even occurred. This trauma often brings feelings of intense grief, feelings of helplessness, as well as painful searching for “Why?” The resources below can be helpful to individuals dealing with traumatic loss and those who are trying to support them.

Please note that in the hours and days immediately following a tragic loss, it is most important to make sure that the individuals most intensely affected by the tragedy are physically safe (if they were in danger or separated from others), their immediate practical needs are taken care of, and that close friends and family are around them.

During the chaos and confusion of the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, prayer for those affected is especially needed. Recognition that we, as human beings, do not understand why these things happen is also important.  Reliance on simplistic or “pat answers” to explain “why?” is not helpful. That said, as family, friends, congregations, and communities come together to provide mutual support and care, we can say that God will give us grace for today.

For Further Information:

When Terrible Things Happen: What You May Experience
This helpful resource outlines many of the common reactions individuals may have during and immediately after a crisis.  Healthy and unhealthy coping responses are highlighted.  [Psychological First Aid]

Phases of Grief
Normalizing the grieving process is often very helpful for those dealing with loss. This diagram shows one model for understanding stages of grief and can help individuals to understand their own grief as well as the emotions and reactions of others. 

Grief and Emotions
This graphic shows a picture of the wide range of emotions that people feel when dealing with a loss. If you can identify with any (or all!) of the feelings in this image, you are NORMAL. [H. Norman Wright]

When Tragedy Strikes: Finding Security In A Vulnerable World
This booklet provides helpful guidance for dealing with the emotional and spiritual issues that arise after traumatic experiences (e.g., natural disasters, tragic accidents, and violent crimes). [ODB Ministries]

Comforting Scriptures for Times of Depression and Struggle [ACCFS]

Additional articles and resources on Grief and Loss [ACCFS]