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In our series on Wrongful Death, we have, so far, discussed the basic mechanics of who can be a party to a lawsuit, who must file and the types of monetary damages that can be sought.

From a financial standpoint, these are all very important subjects and for the future well being of the family should be given careful consideration with the help of qualified legal counsel. The proper handling of these issues can have ramifications that will impact the entire family’s fiscal well being beyond the present generation of survivors and shouldn’t be trivialized in any manner.

However, the judiciary concerns associated with a wrongful death are only one aspect of the events that can be brought on by the sudden loss of a loved one and in all honesty, if you have an experienced attorney, they may well be the simplest parts to deal with.


It is never an easy thing to lose someone you care about, but in a case where that loss is sudden, unexpected and attributable to the senseless negligence of someone, the normal process of grieving is rendered more severe by the very nature of the event.

In the normal course of events, the majority of losses that we suffer, whether they are from age or disease, we have a certain amount of time to help prepare ourselves. Financial matters can be discussed, goodbyes can be said, assurances can be made and last memories created. It doesn’t make the separation easier, but at least there isn’t the shock that comes with a sudden death.

Some, who have been through this experience, have described it as going to sleep safely in your bed and waking up floundering in the ocean with no land in sight. It is a combination of grief, shock, anger and at times remorse. That can leave you with a world that seems to be completely distorted from your normal reality.

What You Can Do

There is really no advice that can be given here, beyond seeking professional counseling that can make the experience any easier to bear. There are a few things that you can keep in mind, though, that will help you in dealing with those around you and what you are jointly going through.

Grief is a very personal thing and while everyone goes through the same basic cycle of grief,

  • Shock & Denial
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Bargaining
  • Acceptance

Not everyone goes through it at the same pace. Some may even skip stages or become stuck in certain stages of the grief cycle for extended periods of time. Don’t judge or resent how others deal with their grief.

Many times, the fabric of relationships that are already strained by the loss can be irrevocably torn by harsh words or perceived slights. Allow everyone room to deal with their emotions in the way that works best for them as long as they are not doing anything to harm themselves or others.

Remember that the loss of a spouse can be very different from the loss of a child or a parent and vice versa. Every relationship is unique and within certain limits, so is the way people have to deal with the loss of that relationship. Add to the loss that the sudden absents of the deceased is going to require people to step into roles that they may be unaccustomed to and unprepared for, such as shifting from bread winner to nurturer and you have a mountain of stress that can challenge the strongest among us.

To the best of your abilities, be forgiving with those you have left and seek professional guidance from a grief counselor if problems develop. Nothing can replace those that have left us so we must take care of the ones we still have.