How to Cope with Losing a Loved One in a Motor Vehicle Accident

Firstly, if you lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, we are so sorry for your loss. Losing someone you love is heart-breaking and extremely difficult. Death, loss, and grief are natural parts of life. But when death arrives suddenly and unexpectedly, such as a car crash, the overlap of the traumatic experience and the grief of the loss can overwhelm us. Families suffering the shock and agony of losing a loved one in an auto accident often do not know where to turn for help with their grief. Sometimes they do not even know they need help with it. During these difficult times, we all need someone to lean on, no matter how strong we are. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Larry B. Litt have helped many families shortly after such a terrible loss. Unfortunately, all the great legal advice and guidance in the world cannot bring someone back. Adjusting to your new lives with such large voids is not an easy task.  

We are not therapists, but we know grief is a process everyone must work through, or it can hound you forever. Unresolved grief can damage your life beyond repair, transforming you into an angry or helpless person. May you find the comfort you are seeking. 

When we have clients who lose loved ones in a car collision, here are some resources we recommend to counsel and console them in their grief:

  • Pastor or church. The faith community can be a powerful resource, with access to a wealth of help, whether they offer it to you in-house or refer you to other community resources. These folds are professionals in grief counseling and the various forms it takes, and can help steer you to the best option in the most compassionate way.
  • Doctor. Like the faith community, the medical community has access to numerous experts and various treatments that can help you overcome sadness. And maybe you suffer from situational depression that could require medication or referral to a specialist to help you cope with your grief reaction.
  • Counselor or therapist. Some of these professionals specialize in grief. You might be able to find one through the groups above or family and friends. Your therapist may be able to recommend formal or informal support groups where people whose lives have been upended by sudden tragedies meet for comfort, consolation, and reassurance.
  • Get with people! Sadness is a twisted emotion: it can make you crave being alone, but this is very dangerous because isolation enhances depression. Stay involved with your family and friends. Remember they can be some of the best resources to help you cope with grief and find professionals to help you. One of the best ways to feel better about yourself is to do something kind for somebody else. Do it in your loved one’s memory. You might also find a group for folks like you to share their experiences and encourage each other.

Suffering should remind us we were not created to live alone. While grief is real and justified and can not be ignored, we have too much life to live to let it consume us. Reach out, even if you do not want to.

What Are the 5 Stages of Grief?

Although everyone copes with loss in different ways, there are five commonly defined stages of grief. They help provide a framework for the complex thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that are often experienced with the loss of a loved one. 

While these stages should not be thought of as resolute – not everyone experiences these stages in the same way or in the same order, if at all – understanding them can help you make sense of the emotions you may be feeling. Here are the five stages:

  • Denial. Denial refers to the period of grieving during which a person refuses to accept the reality of a situation. Denial is different than not understanding. It is a defense mechanism that helps us protect ourselves from the shock of the upsetting hardship. A period of denial can be normal and even helpful during the grieving process, as we work to process a difficult situation. Examples of denial include; refusing to accept or acknowledge the death, refusing or avoiding the topic in conversation, stating the loss is not true, or that the source of the news is unreliable.
  • Anger. Once a person comes to understand the information they received, and accepts the reality of a death, the often experience anger. Anger can be a natural response directed toward oneself, family members, doctors, God, or even the deceased. Anger is a normal part of the grieving process, though it may seem hurtful or offensive to loved ones. Often, anger is just a manifestation of grief, and can present itself in various ways. For example; blaming a medical doctor for not saving your loved one after a car crash accident, feeling anger toward God or a higher spiritual power, feeling angry with oneself or blaming oneself for the death, or experiencing a short temper or loss of patience.
  • Bargaining. When we experience grief, we often feel hopeless and overwhelmed. It is common to be overcome by statements of “what if” and “if only,” as we experience a loss of control over what is happening. During the bargaining stage of grief, a person attempts to negotiate or make compromises. We try to make agreements with ourselves, or a deal with a higher power, in exchange or feeling less sad or having a different outcome. Bargaining is often irrational. Examples of bargaining include; “if only I had not sent him/her to the store,” “If I took a different route to work,” “if I had drove myself to the doctors.”
  • Depression. Depression is a feeling of sadness and hopelessness that often results with the loss of a loved one. While the earlier stages of grief help to protect us from the emotional pain experienced with loss, often these feelings are inevitable. Symptoms of depression may include; feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy, changes in sleep, significant changes in weight, lack of energy, feeling agitated or restless, feeling worthless or guilty, or decreased concentration. Feelings of depression are a natural reaction to grief. Following the loss of a loved one, acute grief can impact your functioning for a limited time. Bereavement can lead to prolonged grief disorder. If these feelings persist and continue to cause significant impairment and distress in your life for more than a year. Prolonged grief disorder is a diagnosable medical condition and can become disabling if not managed appropriately.
  • Acceptance. Considered the fifth and last stage. Acceptance refers to the period of grief when we finally come to terms with accepting the reality of our loss. When we have reached this stage of acceptance, we no longer deny or struggle against our grief. During this time, we work to focus our energy on celebrating the life of our loved one, cherish the memories that were shared, and make plans for moving forward.

Coping with the Loss of a Loved One

Thoughts on how to cope with the loss of a loved one:

  • Allow yourself to feel every bit of the pain.
  • Develop a daily routine. Adhering to a healthy diet, exercise routine, and sleep schedule can help you focus on the things you can control.
  • Celebrate the life of your loved one. Consider taking steps to honor the memory of your loved one who has passed in a way that is meaningful to you. This could be anything from collecting photos, to sharing stories, to establishing a memorial.
  • Work on finding joy. Allowing yourself to experience joy during difficult times can help improve your mental state and provide long-lasting health benefits.
  • There is no timetable on grief. When the feelings of loss arise, be with them, do not try to have a cognitive solution to your pain. Just allow it and be with it. This is hard work, but very important for your emotional wholeness.
  • Cry often and loudly if needed. Do not try to be strong by denying the pain. Strong people allow their feelings. They face them head on in-order to find some element of freedom emotionally. Unprocessed pain always comes out sideways (over doing things like eating, spending, binge TV watching, any type of addiction to numb the pain).
  • Become a loving parent to your hurting inner child. Practice self-compassion for how incredibly difficult the situation is you are dealing with. Read things like Self Compassion by Kirsten Neff or any book for coping with the loss of a loved one to a car accident.
  • Do not let anyone tell you “You should be over this by now, the person would want you to get on with your life.” That is a form of dysfunctional denial and it is very prevalent in our culture.

The Legal Side of Grief

In addition to the emotional cost of a sudden fatal car accident, continuous legal actions draw out grief and prolong the mourning period. Family members may have to take part in legal proceedings such as criminal negligence cases or may even choose to pursue a wrongful death claim in-order to get justice for the deceased. Unfortunately, these proceedings can be stressful, but going through it when you are already grieving can take its toll on you and your family. That is where we come in.

If you know someone who was killed wrongfully in a Baltimore car accident due to the negligence of someone else, the first thing you need to do is contact an experienced car collision attorney. We have already explored the right to compensation and to sue. If we can help lighten your load by aiding you in a case you might have from your loved one’s death, get your questions answered in a free, no pressure strategy session today.

Allow yourself and family to process your grief and get justice without adding needless stress onto an already tense situation. Contact our office today, with over 40 years’ worth of experience helping victims like you through car accident crises, we know how to get the compensation your loved one deserves. Let us put our skills to work for you.

The Law Offices of Larry B. Litt can guide you through the case and tell you if your relationship with the victim qualifies you for the wrongful death lawsuit against the person whose negligence caused the death of your loved one. Moreover, an experienced lawyer can determine what kind of compensation is suitable for your case by examining all the relevant insurance laws and policies involved. The Law Offices of Larry B. Litt can evaluate your claim and help you get the help you need to heal the best way that you can. Call us to schedule a free no-obligation consultation today at 443-844-1528 or fill out a contact form provided here.