Grief vs. Trauma

Posted on October 21, 2013, in Grief and Trauma

Grief generally does not attack or
“disfigure” our identity.

Trauma generally attacks, distorts and “disfigures” our identity.

In grief, guilt says, “I wish I would or would not have..."


Trauma guilt says, “It was my fault.
I could have prevented it. It should have been me.”
In grief dreams tend to be of the person who died.

In trauma, dreams are about the child himself dying or being hurt.


Generalized reaction...SADNESS


Generalized reaction...TERROR
Grief reactions can stand alone.

Trauma reactions generally also include grief reactions.


Grief reactions are generally known to the public and the professional.

Trauma reactions, especially in children, are largely unknown to the public and often to professional counselors as well.


In grief, pain is related to the loss.

In trauma, pain is related to the tremendous terror and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness and fear for safety.


In grief, a child’s anger is generally not destructive.

In trauma, a child’s anger often becomes assaultive (even after non-violent trauma, fighting often increases).


A normal 6 year old's
drawing of herself.

A traumatized 6 year old's
drawing of herself.


Trauma Reactions are DIFFERENT from Grief Reactions
Trauma Reactions OVERPOWER Grief Reactions

Children can be traumatized by violent or non-violent incidents. Separation from a parent through divorce or foster care, a family member's terminal illness or sudden death, exposure to physical or sexual abuse, witness of drug use, house fire, tornado, flood, earthquakes or hurricanes, as well as drowning, murder, suicide, school violence can all be traumatizing incidents.

Your gift to Starr Commonwealth will help vulnerable families transform their lives. Every dollar goes directly to helping children, adults, families and communities thrive through proven, strength-based programs. Giving is secure and easy and will bring help and hope to children and their families.

Donate Now! Cancel