Emotional Process as Tragedy Strikes

 In Resources

When a person is hit by a stroke, heart attack, fracture, or other major sudden medical issue, an emotional process follows.  The time is often chaotic, and people are filled with many emotions as well as adrenaline.  Hospital pastoral care and social workers often help families process their emotions and make decisions.  The tragedy affects families as well as patients.

When a tragedy first hits, those involved are hit with shock.  They are often confused about what is going on and why it has happened.  People are often in denial about the severity.  The reality is usually takes time to sink in.  We often cry, bargain, get angry, struggle to sleep, and ask a higher power for a miracle.  The first few days after tragedy are difficult to wrap one’s head around.

Often after a sudden tragic illness hits, the person affected has to go through therapies.  They are grieving the effects of the illness while trying to find motivation to do therapies.  Sometimes with all the emotions traveling through a person, finding the motivation to work hard is difficult.  Sometimes, people experience depression in this time, which especially makes working hard in therapies difficult.  Our physical needs and emotional needs are often conflicting in this difficult time.

As a patient struggles with emotions related to their illness, their families are also affected.  Families often push especially hard because they want their loved one to get better.  They emotionally struggle sometimes even more than the patients.  Everyone deals with tragedy and illness differently.  When we process emotions differently in these chaotic times, it can be hard to understand different family members.  Some may go into a numbed, depressed, shocked state.  Others might go into survival mode where they want everything possible done.  Some want to control the situation.  Others may not be able to emotionally process options very quickly to be able to make a decision they are comfortable with.  All these reactions are normal.  It can be frustrating though when different people in the same family unit experience the situation differently.  Conflicts during this stressful time are common.

After a person and their family work through the effects of an illness, they tend to further process their emotions.  Sometimes, a person needs to reflect on their illness and somewhat relive what they went through.  This helps to process the feelings that were pushed inside while physical needs were addressed.  Sometimes, people develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from physical issues.  In these situations, counseling can help a person process what they went through.