Handbook for Mortals : Dying suddenly : Multiple deaths

When you have to endure the pain of the loss of more than one family member or friend, such as might happen in an accident or a natural disaster, grieving becomes more confusing and complicated. Many people find it so painful that life seems especially hollow. Sometimes a survivor wishes he or she could just die also. It may seem as if the dead persons are in a better place, and that it is the survivors who feel left behind. Sometimes you don't know which person to grieve for first, or most, or you feel guilty over missing one person more than another. The losses are so much that you cannot believe that something this terrible could happen and leave you still living. You will often have lost the family system that was there, and you will often feel disoriented without that familiar structure.

Again, you need an understanding of what happened, friends and family to lean on to hear your grief and to give practical help, and a professional counselor. In these circum-stances, you must be gentle with yourself and expect that merely enduring is enough for a while.

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Handbook for Mortals book cover Copyright © 1999, 2006 by Joanne Lynn. This extract from the Handbook for Mortals by Joanne Lynn, M.D. and Joan Harrold, M.D. is used with permission. To learn more about improving care at the end of life visit the main web site for Americans for Better Care of the Dying.
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