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On July 17th, 2003 at 1 a.m. while working a vehicle accident, I was struck by a drunk driver. I lost everything I had. My wife left, as 1 year of watching me have seizures and not get better was too much for her. More

Drunk Driving News

Drunk Driving Fatalities Drop to Lowest Rate since 1950

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that U.S. fatalities due to drunk driving fell to a record low number in 2009, declining by 7.4% from 2008, with a 19% decrease since 2000. This represents the lowest number since 1950. More

Drug and Alcohol Courts: An Effective Alternative to Jail

Drug courts were developed in the 1980's in an effort to stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, and to reduce the criminal activity that typically accompanies these behaviors. More

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Hold Drunk Drivers Responsible

Understanding Grief

Losing someone you love is very painful, and this pain is compounded when the loss is caused by a drunk driver. After such a significant loss, you will experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt.  Sometimes you may feel like the sadness will never let up. While these feelings can be frightening and overwhelming, they are normal reactions to loss. Accepting them as part of the grieving process and allowing yourself to feel what you feel is necessary and important for healing.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve - but there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. Grief that is expressed and experienced has a potential for healing. You will get through it.

It is helpful to understand the stages of grief.

  • Denial - At first, it may be difficult for you to accept the death of a loved one. As a result you may deny the reality of death. However, this denial will gradually diminish as you begin to express and share your feelings about death and dying with friends and family.
  • Anger - During this stage the most common question asked is "Why?" You may be angry at what you perceive to be the unfairness of death and you may project and displace your anger onto others. When given some social support and respect, you will eventually become less angry and able to move into the next stage of grieving.
  • Bargaining - Many people try to bargain with their God. They often try to bargain and offer to give up an enjoyable part of their lives in exchange for the return of the lost person.
  • Guilt - You may find yourself feeling guilty for things you did or didn't do prior to the loss. Forgive yourself and accept that you are human and imperfect.
  • Depression - You may at first experience a sense of great loss. Mood fluctuations and feelings of isolation and withdrawal may follow. It takes time for you to return to your old self and become socially involved in what's going on around you.
  • Loneliness - As you go through changes in your social life because of the loss, you may feel lonely and afraid. The more you are able to reach out to others, maintain existing friendships and make new ones, the more this feeling lessens.
  • Acceptance - Acceptance does not mean happiness. Instead you accept and deal with the reality of the situation.
  • Hope - Eventually you will reach a point where remembering will be less painful and you can begin to look ahead to the future and more good times.

Many people experience the following symptoms when they’re grieving. Knowing common grief symptoms will help you understand what is happening to you as you move through the grieving process.

  • Shock and disbelief – Right after a loss, it can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. You may keep expecting someone who has died to show up, even though you know logically they’re gone.
  • Sadness – Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.
  • Guilt – You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. After a death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if realistically there was nothing you could have done.
  • Anger – If you lost a loved one, you will likely feel angry and resentful. In addition to the party responsible, you may also be angry at yourself, your God or higher power, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you.
  • Fear – A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.
  • Physical symptoms – Grief often involves physical problems including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.

There are a number of actions you can take to help you cope with and process grief.

Get family support: Get support from family and friends. Try not to isolate yourself. Your support system is invaluable in a time of grieving. Family and friends may be able to provide comfort, companionship, and an understanding, non-judgmental place for you to voice your feelings.

Join a grief support group: A grief support group is made of members who are all dealing with the death of someone they loved by talking about their feelings and how they are coping with their grief. Grief support groups are normally run by a social worker, trained grief counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist who help guide the group through the journey of grief.

There are many benefits to joining a grief support group:

  • Being able to share and make a connection with other people who are experiencing the same thing you are.
  • Group members will listen to you without passing judgment, and everyone can share their ideas about healing and coping with the death of their loved one.
  • Also, you may gain a deeper understanding of the grieving process, and feeling that your personal feelings and thoughts are a normal part of this process.

Attending a grief support group may feel uncomfortable at first, but it's important to take that first step. Before deciding a grief support group is not for you, try it for a couple sessions. If you still feel that a group is not what you expected, don't give up. Try another group until you find one that you feel provides you with an environment that will help you work through the grieving process.

There are many ways you can find a support group near you:

  • check with your local hospital;
  • check with a hospice group in your area; many hospice groups offer grief support groups regardless of whether your loved one used hospice services.
  • Many churches and other religious and community organizations also have grief support groups. You may also want to check with the funeral home that handled your loved one's funeral arrangements. Many funeral directors will be happy to provide you with a list of support groups.

Therapist / Grief Counselor: If you decide a support group is not for you, consider finding a therapist/grief counselor to assist you in working through your grief. You are not weak if you seek out advice and comfort from a grief counselor. Grief counseling is often the most effective support during this difficult time, and will help you understand and deal with the grieving process. You can learn coping skills in a safe, sympathetic environment.

It is important to take care of yourself during this difficult time. Support your physical health – exercise, eat right, stay active and involved, see friends. Avoid alcohol and drugs to mask grief. Prepare for grief triggers like anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays.

Read books on how to deal with grief: For a good list of books on dealing with grief, please go to: Understanding Grief.

Know when to get professional help to cope with grief. Contact a grief counselor or professional therapist if you:

  • Feel like life isn’t worth living.
  • Wish you had died with your loved one.
  • Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it.
  • Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks.
  • Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss.
  • Are unable to perform your normal daily activities.
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