Sudden Death

Sudden Death

A sudden, accidental, unexpected or traumatic death shatters the world as we know it. It is often a loss that does not make sense. We realize life is not always fair and that sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Stages of Grief:

  1. Impact Stage:

Survivors enter this stage immediately after being informed of the death of a loved one. Feelings of shock, numbness, disbelief, and denial are the first reactions in the stage.

  1. Recoil Stage:

This is the most painful stage in the grief process. The shock and numbness now subsides and the survivor comes to the full realization of the loss.

A sudden, unexpected death damages the survivors’ belief in a fair and rational world. As a result, many survivors feel anger towards God, the world, other people, themselves, or the deceased.

Many survivors also experience guilt or self-blame. Fear and anxiety are also common reactions of bereaved people.

During this stage, anxiety-related psychological symptoms occur, including:

  • Uncontrolled sobbing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Loss of Appetite or Digestive Problems
  • Nausea
  • Nightmares or insomnia
  • The need to rationalize is very common at the stage. The survivor will search for answers to questions, such as:
  • ‘why me?’
  • ‘Why him/her?’
  • ‘Why now?’

  1. The survivor finally accepts the loss and begins to ‘let go’ of the deceased. They ‘adapt’ to the loss, accepting that life can be unfair.

The intensity of the emotional reaction decrease, as do the physical symptoms. They may return to their own lives or make changes to help adapt to the loss. This process can take years.


  • Medical Examiner
    • 403-297-8123
  • Kids Help l line
    • 1-800-668-6868
  • Canadian Mental Health
    • Clinic – Adult 403-381-5260
    • Clinic – Children/ Youth  403-381-5278
  • Distress Line
    • 403-327-7905
    • 1-888-787-2880
  • Crisis Intervention Team
    • 403-329-5630