Running head: GRIEF AND HOMICIDE SURVIORS
Study of Grief and How It Impacts Homicide Survivors
Tina R. Workman
Hillsborough Community College
Bereavement, the loss of someone you care about, is a part of life for everyone. How one reacts to grief and how they move through the grieving process determines whether additional support or professional help is needed. People seek support from religious leaders, family and friends, or other social circles. Everyone who is experiencing grief does not need to attend counseling although many do. Counseling and support groups can be beneficial in addition to the traditional interventions mentioned. According to J. William Worden (1982), “[…] many times people come for medical or psychiatric care unaware of the dynamics of grief, and this requires that the clinician help make the diagnosis” (p. 61). We will explore the diagnostic criteria for bereavement, take a look at the etiology, discuss symptoms and behaviors of grief, and delve into the impact of homicide on the grieving process. Due to the fact that grieving is a natural course of life there is no diagnostic criteria for grief. Pathology is not attached to grief because it could then be viewed as an illness which it is not. Sometimes people call the grieving process depression. It is important to understand that while grief may have some of the same diagnostic criteria as major depressive disorder there are differences. According to the DSM-V (2013), with grief the predominate affect is feelings of emptiness, whereas with major depressive disorder a persistent depression with the inability to anticipate happiness or pleasure is most prevalent. Research has shown that traumatic bereavement comes from a sudden death such as homicide or suicide, resulting in what is called persistent complex bereavement (complicated grief) due to the suddenness and manner of death. Persistent complex bereavement can only be considered in adults if symptoms persist longer than 12 months after the person close to you has died and it is more prevalent in females than males (DSM-V, 2013). The cause of bereavement is when someone to whom you were close to or loved has died. Individuals are unique and it would make sense that their grief would be too. Research has shown there are many symptoms people can display when going through grief. J. William Worden (1982) said “Because the list of normal grief behavior is so extensive and varied, these behaviors can be described under four general categories: (1) feelings, (2) physical sensations, (3) cognitions, and (4) behaviors” (p. 20). Under the category of feelings symptoms would include: sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, shock, yearning, emancipation, relief, and numbness (Worden, 1982). Somatic sensations can include: hollowness in the stomach, tightness in the chest or throat, oversensitivity to noise, depersonalization, short of breath, muscle weakness, dry mouth, and lack of energy (Worden, 1982). Cognitions for grief are varied. There are some thought patterns that disappear after the early stages of grief and others that persist longer and trigger sadness and/or anxiety (Worden, 1982). Grief can cause thought patterns such as: disbelief, confusion/trouble concentrating, preoccupation, sense of presence, and hallucinations (Worden, 1982). The range of behaviors that are often associated with bereavement are varied and vast. Common behaviors displayed are: sleep disturbances, appetite disturbances, absent-minded behavior, social withdrawal, dreams of the deceased, avoiding reminders of the deceased, searching and calling out for the deceased, restless overactivity, crying, visiting places or carrying objects that remind the survivor of the deceased (Worden, 1982). When dealing with traumatic or sudden death, research has shown the grieving process can become complicated leading to what is known as persistent complex...
References: Asaro, M. (2001). Working with adult homicide survivors, part I: impact and sequelae
Worden, J. (1982). Grief counseling and grief therapy: A handbook for the mental health
Zinzow, H., Rheingold, A., Byczkiewicz, M., Saunders, B., & Kilpatrick, D. (2011).
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