Whether it's dealing with the death of family, friend or co-worker, like Vanessa Melson of Houston, County, who went missing two weeks ago, but her body was found this week in a shallow grave near Crockett; or the sudden death of several pets due to a fire that Lisa and Mitch Norman of Lufkin are dealing with after a fire on Sunday that killed 5 of their 8 pets, the reality of death is traumatic
"Whatever happened in that event, sometimes it's just encapsulated. A lot of times it feels as if it's still happening," explained Licensed Professional Counselor Doctor Debra K. Burton, PhD.
She said a person dealing with trauma from death should not clamp down or refuse to deal with what he or she is feeling inside. Brown said how people react to death has a lot of factors including the relationship with the person and how they died. But a person can also experience trauma by witnessing the death of a stranger.
"Even passing an automobile accident and seeing something or coming upon the scene of an accident can be quite traumatic for a person," Burton said.
As the Director of Patient Relations and Chaplain at Woodland Heights Medical Center for more than a decade, Rick Williams is constantly in the presence of family members and people who are facing the unexpected death or a long-term illness that is ending the life of a loved one.
"People are not used to death. Therefore, they don't know how to handle it. Not that any of us do," Williams said.
To help people deal with the death trauma, the chaplain practices what he calls the "Ministry of Presence."
"Just being there. To be able to answer a question. To get a Kleenex. To get coffee," he said about his approach to ease the burden of the person still in shock about passing.
Gradually, the chaplain gets them to talking. Talking about their loved one and their own life.
"[To] "talk about where you're headed at this point," Williams said. "What sort of purpose do you have now that your loved one's gone?"
Burton agrees with being present for the person who has not yet begin to understand or process the demise.
"The thing that helps the most is talking. People being present for the people who've experienced the loss," Burton said about what should happen, because not talking could be destructive to survivors. "They can't stop thinking about it. They have high levels of anxiety or they're just numbing out and can't feel anything, those are signs that you would want to contact a counselor. Probably contact your physician would be a very good first step."