Handbook for Mortals : Dying suddenly : Accidents

An accidental death also leaves the survivor feeling shock, grief, and a sense of supreme unfairness. The world may seem much more unpredictable and unsafe. At times, having a clearly identifiable reason for the accident means that some person or agency must bear the blame and guilt of having been careless or thoughtless. You might pursue legal action to ensure that this kind of accident never happens again, or that the person responsible is punished. This can be a comfort that others will not be hurt, or a source of bitterness that a loved one’s death is what it took to make a change.

Of course, sometimes the person most to blame is also the person who most loved the one now dead. If you survive in such a situation, you will need to hear many times that others do not hold you responsible, and that you can forgive yourself. You will need to feel the special love of a family or community to begin to make sense of such an event. Do take every opportunity to reach out to others, and make yourself go for professional counseling in the months following the event.

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Handbook for Mortals book cover Copyright © 1999, 2006 by Joanne Lynn. This extract from the Handbook for Mortals by Joanne Lynn, M.D. and Joan Harrold, M.D. is used with permission. To learn more about improving care at the end of life visit the main web site for Americans for Better Care of the Dying.
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