A Bit of Background on Grief:

Many people think of grief as a reaction to the loss of a person, relationship, pet, or job. Grieving is a whole-body experience; both the body and the mind are involved. People may cry or feel sad, or they may become incredibly angry and moody. They may lose their appetite or eat too much. They may have issues with sleeping, either too much or not enough. They may sigh often and find that they cannot concentrate. They also may begin to cling to other people or animals, fearing that these will be taken away as well. They may lose the will to live.

Complications of Grief Combined with CPTSD:

Living with PTSD and CPTSD is like watching the reality of your life suddenly and unexpectedly tossed up into the air repeatedly. The reality shatters like a puzzle. Then the puzzle pieces fall all around, and you do not know how to put the picture back together again. Life seems like you are trying to navigate a minefield in the dark with the brain constantly screaming “Danger! Danger!”

To repair the picture, you must deal with pain, sometimes pain that feels enormous and even unbearable. When a person has been rejected or is feeling emotional pain from other issues, the same part of the brain that is activated during physical pain becomes triggered. That is why it hurts so much. People who are survivors of severe trauma, especially developmental trauma from childhood may have more intense grief reactions. CPTSD causes people to have trouble regulating their emotions and feelings may seem more intense and unmanageable.

Examples of Triggers to Grief:

Many people do not realize that grief is not only about actual loss but is also about what you did not have a chance to have in your life. The loss of health, for example, a common issue with CPTSD survivors can cause grief. Not being able to do the things you used to do, can feel devastating at times.

Another common concern is betrayal trauma. This happens when a child or adult has been betrayed by someone that they trusted. A frequent occurrence is when a parent does not protect a child or refuses to believe when a child reports abuse or molestation. This form of trauma can happen to an adult when a loved one or another trusted person deceives them and harms them. Lies and deceit by people you care about can destroy confidence. It can cause damaged faith in other people and yourself. This can increase CPTSD symptoms.

The Death of an Abusive Parent:

When you do not have the love and support of a parent(s), or a normal childhood it can be more difficult to cope when an abusive parent dies. Many people do not understand why they may feel sad when an abusive parent dies.

This is caused by the loss of hope, the loss of a dream that the parent(s) will change and love and accept the person or will apologize and make amends. When a person dissociates and is learning not to, the whole situation may feel intolerable. The same thing may occur when a person is learning to cope with life without substances or using other addictions. The temptation to return to old unhealthy coping skills may be almost impossible to resist.

People must listen to their inner voice, the higher, wiser self before acting. This takes practice and confidence in yourself. Everyone grieves differently and for different lengths of time. Tuning into your own needs and permitting yourself to use self-care can help to relieve the hurt and confusion.

Using Grief as a Stepping Stone for Healing:

Any unresolved loss can also trigger a person if a new loss happens. Holistically people heal in layers, top to bottom, inside to out, newer things heal more quickly, and older things take longer to heal. Things can also come back for healing on a deeper level and the person may then have a “relapse” which is just a recycling. Old symptoms may return and present symptoms may grow worse temporarily.

If you visualize healing as a spiral staircase, you may think you have gone back to the beginning again, but you are up a level. No one is ever back at the beginning although it feels that way at times.

It takes enormous courage and discernment to continue to heal old layers and live your present-day life at the same time. Giving yourself credit for how far you have come is essential and helps to repair damaged self-esteem and self-confidence.

It can be helpful to listen to yourself and allow triggers to be a sign that further work is necessary. Many survivors have huge problems with permitting themselves to practice self-care. Being gentle with yourself is healthier than self-medicating with food, substances, relationships, or self-harm. Identifying and labeling feelings is a way of making them more manageable and reducing the need to self-medicate.

A step up on the spiral staircase is learning to be your own best friend and advocate while honoring and respecting yourself. This can assist in healing the layers of scars in the body, mind, and soul.


The following are links to my three books. The first two books have tools that can be used for healing. The last one, a novel, is the first in a trilogy. The titles are: Unlocking the Puzzle of PTSD, Restoring the Broken Threads and Cry for the Children.




Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

Susan Pollard, MS

https://www.facebook.com/susanpollardlifecoach [email protected]


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