Rock formations on a South Australian beach.

Grief following accidental or traumatic death


The tendency for people who have been severely traumatised to become emotionally numb, to avoid talking about the issue and shut down can disrupt the grief process. They may also experience feelings of unreality and fear. This can make it very difficult for them to access their inner feelings and to work through the disruptions and losses caused by the traumatic event.

The bereaved person may suffer from ‘survivor guilt’, questioning why they survived when others have died and believing that they could or should have done more to prevent the tragedy.

The memories of the accident or the disaster may dominate the bereaved person’s mind. These memories, particularly if the bereaved person’s loved one died in extremely distressing circumstances, may dominate their thoughts, rather than the memories of the dead person themselves. This can become a diversion from grieving for the person who was killed. In that way the grief process may be disrupted.

The memories of the traumatic death may cause so much distress, that the memories of the person who has died may be actively avoided.

Other Resources


Offers 24/7 crisis support via telephone, text or online

The Victim Support Service

A state-wide service across South Australia providing free and confidential  therapeutic counselling and practical support to victims of crime.
Beyond Blue

Provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
Road Trauma Support Team of SA

Provides free counselling and support for people who have been affected by road trauma, whether directly or indirectly.


Page last updated: 29 December 2021