Grief vs. Trauma


Generalized reaction is SADNESS.Grief reactions stand alone.

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

In grief most can generally talk about what happened.

In grief pain is the acknowledgement of the loss.

In grief anger is generally non-destructive and non-assaultive.

In grief guilt says “I wish I would/would not have…”

Grief generally does not attack nor “disfigure” our self image.

In grief dreams tend to be of the deceased.

Grief generally does not involve trauma reactions like flash backs, startle reactions, hypervigilance, numbing, etc.



Generalized reaction is TERROR.Trauma reactions generally include grief reactions.

Trauma reactions especially in children are largely unknown to the public and often professionals.

In trauma, most do not want to talk about what happened.

In trauma, pain triggers tremendous terror and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness and loss of safety.

In trauma, anger often becomes assaultive even after non-violent trauma.

Trauma guilt says, “It was my fault. I could have prevented it” and “It should have been me instead.”

Trauma generally attacks, distorts and “disfigures” our self image.

In trauma, dreams are about self as potential victim.

Trauma involves grief reactions in addition to trauma specific reactions we have discussed.