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How to Handle Flashbacks During the Bereavement Process


Bereavement Relief

Posted On: Mar 13, 2017

How to Handle Flashbacks During the Bereavement Process

Nightmares are a possible symptom for anyone who loses someone they love, but even then they are not merely nightmares. They're terrifying, depressing, and able to reverse the progress you've made through the grieving process. Flashbacks, which are more intense than nightmares and can occur even when you're awake, typically afflict survivors who experienced something more traumatic. For example, if a loved one committed suicide or was the victim of a violent death, then flashbacks can happen. They also occur if you witnessed your loved one dying or if you found the deceased. Losing someone to a sudden death is another possible cause. The end remains the same, however. Flashbacks and nightmares steal your sleep, your peace, and your sense of closure. They open fresh wounds and stagnate your bereavement.

Try Accepting It

Be forewarned: this is a painful, devastating option and there's no guarantee that it will work. However, confronting your nightmare or flashback head on may strip it of its power and intensity. You have to do this in a place where you feel comfortable and safe, however. You may or may not want someone supportive nearby. This option is likely to end in tears, but in an ideal situation, it will be the last time you have to do battle against your memories.

Keep Notes

Write down everything that happens in your flashbacks or realistic dreams. Keep track of every detail and pay particularly close attention to the scenes or events that cause you the most pain. Your goal is to discover what triggered your flashback. Was there a particular memory, a moment, a smell? What did you do the day of your flashback or nightmare? What did you talk about that day?

Distract Yourself

Distracting yourself is another way to get through your flashback. You can distract yourself in any way that takes your mind from the memories plaguing you. Try to call up the lyrics from an obscure song. Reconstruct a conversation you shared with your friend. Go through the state capitals or the states themselves.

Talk to Someone

You can talk to a friend or relative while you're in the middle of a flashback or just after. You can call for help during a bad spate of memories. You may also want to seek the services of a therapist, especially if you can't handle the intensity of your flashbacks but aren't having any luck with stopping them.

You are not alone in this, and if you feel that you are, realize that you don't have to deal with this on your own. There are people out there who can help you overcome the nightmares and flashbacks overtaking you.