By Kerry J. Bickford, SADOD Newsletter Editor — Are you or is someone you know or love a survivor of a traumatic loss? Our colleagues at the Surviving Traumatic Loss project are currently engaged in a longitudinal study on how to better support those of us who are grieving a devastating loss, and are extending an invitation to us to participate. The anticipated outcome of this study is “understanding the experience of traumatic bereavement and how we, as helping professionals, can best assist mourners along their journey.”
At SADOD, we are particularly hopeful about this study because it will affect what we do every day; specifically, we support people who are grieving a death by overdose, others who are engaged in or recovering from the disease of addiction, and the army of frontline providers who come face to face with the overdose epidemic.
Survivors often describe it as an agonizing and solitary journey to grieve a loved one who has died by overdose or suicide, and it is even more complicated if the right support is not available. Traumatic losses such as these are complex for loved ones and providers to respond to because so little is known about the needs of the mourners or how to effectively support them. This seems somewhat incredible given that we have been grieving since the beginning of time, but the good news is that we can help change this!
The invitation to those of us who have experienced a traumatic loss within the last five years is an opportunity to contribute invaluable information from our own experiences about what helped, what didn’t, and what might have. The secret to effective and compassionate support lies deep within these experiences, and this critical information could positively change how the needs of this often neglected population are met in the future.
The specifics of the project include three online questionnaires over an 18-month period. Having recently registered and completed the first survey, I can tell you that it takes about a half hour to go through the questions thoughtfully. Once you have completed this first survey, you will receive an email that confirms receipt and explains that you will receive a reminder and link to the next survey in six months.
Your participation will be rewarded with a small donation to your choice of a nonprofit (and if you’re undecided about that, SADOD recommends that you consider donating to Learn To Cope. Upon completion of the final survey at the end of 18 months, you will also receive a gift card, but that’s not the real reward.
The real reward is taking one of the most devastating experiences of your life and using it to make a difference in the journey of others. It’s a way to make sense of this tragedy we have endured by empowering ourselves to contribute to the support of the next generation of mourners. In doing so, we are keeping the memory of our loved ones alive.