Losing a loved one is always painful. Our Carrollton drunk driving accident lawyers have seen what a profound impact grief has on the friends and family left behind. However, losing a loved one to something like a drunk driving accident can feel even more senseless.
Coping with the trauma and pain of such a great loss is hard enough on its own, but what about the time immediately following the accident? There will undoubtedly be the legal system to contend with, affairs to put in order, and the need to execute the will of the deceased. All of this can feel entirely overwhelming so soon after a loss.
Today we’re looking at steps family members of a drunk driving victim can take to cope during this difficult time.
Drunk Driving Accidents by the Numbers
First, let’s take a look at just how common drunk driving fatalities actually are and which direction the numbers are headed.
In 2019, the Insurance Information Institute reported that of 36,096 total traffic fatalities, 10,142 of them were alcohol-impaired crash fatalities. That’s 28% of the total.
While that is still a difficult number to digest, it’s important to realize that it is a significant reduction compared to 1985’s 41%. We can deduce from this drop that education and safe driver initiatives, vehicle safety standards, and an overall shift in how the culture views drunk driving are all having a positive impact on the prevalence of drunk driving fatalities.
Tips for Coping with Grief Following Sudden Death
Deaths caused by drunk driving are known as traumatic death or sudden death. Coping with the grief of sudden death can often leave the victim’s friends and family left behind feeling out of control. Some may have a very hard time processing the violent nature of the crash or struggle to move past the fact that they were not able to say goodbye.
You may also experience a desire for revenge following a sudden loss, especially if you’ve lost a loved one as a result of a drunk driving accident. It’s important to know that all of these feelings are normal and are part of a grieving process that can sometimes be more complex than when the loved one’s death was expected.
Above all, it’s essential for those coping with grief to establish a support system of some sort. This could be a trusted friend or family member or even a professional counselor or support group. Seeking help in the early stages of grief can help you cope in a healthy way. You may not feel inclined to reach out, and at first, it may be the last thing on your mind, but a support network can help you get ahead of any potentially harmful or self-destructive behavior as you deal with your grief.
Prioritize Self Care
It’s essential to take time for self-care following the sudden loss of a loved one in a drunk driving accident. Try to differentiate between what must be done and what can potentially be put off for another day. That way, you allow yourself the time you need to process your pain.
Have Patience with Yourself
Everyone mourns at their own pace, and no two grieving periods are alike. Yours may last weeks, or it may last months. Have patience with yourself and give yourself permission to feel the many conflicting and confusing feelings you may experience. Understand that there are many ways to grieve.
You may experience delayed reactions to the sudden loss of a loved one. Many first go through feelings of shock and confusion before the reactions many of us would expect to show up — feelings like profound sadness and anger — take hold.
Gradually, however, you should be progressing towards reengaging with the world. If you find that your grief is interfering with your ability to care for yourself or perform your job, for instance, seek help from a professional. You may be dealing with pathological grief.
Honor Your Loved One's Memory Through Helping
Oftentimes traumatic death inspires a desire in those left behind to help prevent similar situations from happening to others.
Consider joining a group dedicated to making a difference in your community, or raise funds for an organization that seeks to end substance-impaired driving deaths like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Working towards a positive outcome for others can help loved ones derive a sense of meaning from an otherwise senseless loss and can have a lasting and substantial impact on others.
It's Okay to be Okay
Although it may not feel like it, especially in the beginning, life does go on following the loss of a loved one due to a drunk driving accident. At some point, you may find yourself experiencing feelings of positivity, happiness, or hopefulness, and as a result, you may feel a sense of guilt or shame.
Just know that it’s okay to feel okay. Consider how your loved one would want you to live your life. Would they want you never to enjoy your life again? Chances are, they’d want you to live a full and happy life.
With time, you will begin to remember the happy memories you shared with your loved one more frequently than the pain of their loss. Try to give yourself permission to enjoy the good things this life has to offer without the guilt.
Get Help Dealing with the Legal System
Navigating the legal system following a drunk driving-related wrongful death can be exhausting and overwhelming — especially at a time when you may prefer to withdraw from public.
Dealing with bureaucracy and red tape so soon after a tragic loss can feel like the very last thing you should be adding to your already full plate. However, experienced Carrollton drunk driving accident lawyers can walk you through the legal process and hold the wrongdoer accountable to bring justice to you and your family.
Not only is it essential to have Carrollton drunk driving accident lawyers by your side through this process, but it’s also helpful to have a friend or family member who can walk through the process with you, take notes, and offer important emotional support.
Seek Financial Relief
Healing from grief following a sudden loss can take an extended period of time. During that time, you may find it difficult to continue working. You may also find yourself financially taxed and faced with the responsibility of carrying out and paying for any final arrangements for your loved ones. Additionally, you may require professional help during the course of your grieving process, and that can sometimes be an added financial burden.
Find Experienced Carrollton Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
Local Carrollton drunk driving accident lawyers like the team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare can guide you through the legal process of holding the drunk driver responsible for the death of your loved one. While money can never replace the loss of a loved one, it is the way our legal system compensates wrongful death victims. When you seek justice for your family member, our Carrollton attorneys have the experience and resources necessary to maximize the recovery for you.
Contact The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare today to learn more about how we can help you.