Dissociation and Grief

© Copyright 2019 Grief Probate Journey Blog *PLEASE NOTE THIS INFORMATION IS SOURCED FROM UK and AMERICAN WEBSITES* It is also based on our own experience. *We are not experts in this field, we are speaking purely on our own experience with information sought from the internet to give further examples.*

Please see Dissociation and Grief which includes

  1. Introduction/Our Story
  2. Illustrative example: Dissociation and Grief
  3. YouTube Video: Dissociation and Grief
  4. Dissociation
  5. Symptoms of Dissociation
  6. Recognising Dissociation
  7. Triggers of Dissociation
  8. Treatment of Dissociation
  9. Useful Links
  10. Our Final Thoughts

1. Introduction/Our Story

We decided to do this topic as my sister and I are aware that we dissociate ourselves from all the traumatic incidents that occurred whilst our Dad was in the hospital, and we continue to do so to date. We are also aware it might not be the best way to deal with things:

  • Our Dad’s stay in the hospital
  • His unfortunate passing
  • Dealing with Probate
  • Dealing with the hospital complaint

It is the way we know most helpful to get on. By dissociation, it makes us able to move on and get on with anything else we might have to face. It is our coping mechanism.

In honesty, if we acknowledged and took on everything we have gone through, we do not know how we would have the strength or mental capacity to go on. This might sound extreme, but in truth for us, since 5th September 2016, we really have had to deal with some of the most upsetting and unpleasant situations. To date we still find it difficult to associate with the fact our Dad is no longer here even though it is our reality.

As we do not focus on the fact that we do this, we can easily forget our reality, and what we are actually dealing with and facing. We decided to do this as a topic to share with others in the hope to create awareness and possibly help someone who might be experiencing similar things.

Please see Dissociation and Grief.


2. Illustrative example: Dissociation and Grief


3. YouTube Video: Dissociation and Grief

3.1 Dissociative disorders – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology


4. Dissociation

4.1 What happens when I dissociate?

“Dissociation is being disconnected from the here and now. When people are dissociating they disconnect from their surroundings, which can stop the trauma memories and lower fear, anxiety and shame. Dissociation can happen during the trauma or later on when thinking about or being reminded of the trauma”.

This happens to me, I could be out with friends or family, and then a thought might come into my mind, or I remember something ( to do with my Dad). That thought sends me off into my own little world, so it’s like I’m present wherever I am, but it’s like I’m not really there. An example of this, if I see someone who reminds me of our Dad, or see something which I associate with our Dad’s time in the hospital. This is gone into more detail in our topic Triggers and Grief.

4.2 What does it mean when you disassociate?

“Dissociation is a mental process where a person disconnects from their thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity. For example, the event seems ‘unreal’ or the person feels detached from what’s going on around them as if watching the events on television”. (31 May 2012).

4.3 What is an example of dissociation?

“Examples of mild, common dissociation include daydreaming, highway hypnosis or “getting lost” in a book or movie, all of which involve “losing touch” with awareness of one’s immediate surroundings”.

4.4 Does dissociation ever go away?

“Dissociative amnesia can be temporary and is by definition reversible. Under appropriate circumstances memories can be regained and worked through. They can, but they usually do not. Dissociation is a common coping mechanism, especially in the face of trauma”.

4.5 How do you know if someone is dissociating?

“Common Dissociation Symptoms”

  1. “Daydreaming, spacing out, or eyes glazed over”.
  2. “Acting different, or using a different tone of voice or different gestures”.
  3. “Suddenly switching between emotions or reactions to an event, such as appearing frightened and timid, then becoming bombastic and violent”.(15 Jul 2019)


5. Symptoms of Dissociation

What does dissociation feel like?

“Depersonalization is a form of dissociation where you feel like you’re outside of yourself and you don’t have conscious control of your identity,” says Dr. Saltz. “Derealization is another form, which is feeling like things aren’t real in some way.” (18 Dec 2018).

I feel like this very often from time to time. When this happens it catches me off guard, as though it comes from, nowhere.

5.1 How long can dissociation last?

“People who dissociate may feel disconnected from themselves and the world around them. Periods of dissociation can last for a relatively short time (hours or days) or for much longer (weeks or months). It can sometimes last for years, but usually if a person has other dissociative disorders”.


6.  Recognising Dissociation

6.1 What is emotional dissociation?

“Abstract. Dissociation is a process linked to lapses of attention, history of abuse or trauma, compromised emotional memory, and a disintegrated sense of self. It is theorized that dissociation stems from avoiding emotional information, especially negative emotion, to protect a fragile psyche”.(18 May 2009).

6.2 Is dissociation like zoning out?

“As intense as the physical process sounds, dissociation does not look the same from person to person. It can look like mild zoning out, or a totally frozen state. However, dissociation is often so low-key, that you wouldn’t even notice you spaced out”.(10 Jun 2019)


7. Triggers of Dissociation

7.1 What can trigger dissociation?

“Triggers are sensory stimuli connected with a person’s trauma, and dissociation is an overload response. Even years after the traumatic event or circumstances have ceased, certain sights, sounds, smells, touches, and even tastes can set off, or trigger, a cascade of unwanted memories and feelings”

7.2 What triggers dissociation?

Causes and risk factors

“PTSD or past trauma can lead to depersonalization, when people feel detached from themselves. The exact cause of dissociation is unclear, but it often affects people who have experienced a life-threatening or traumatic event, such as extreme violence, war, a kidnapping, or childhood abuse”. (17 May 2019).


What is trauma related dissociation?

“Basically, “dissociation” means lack of connection or connections. So what’s a useful definition of dissociation for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?  Dissociation disrupts four areas of personal functioning that usually operate together smoothly, automatically, and with few or no problems:1 Identity”.


Why do people dissociate?

“When people are dissociating they disconnect from their surroundings, which can stop the trauma memories and lower fear, anxiety and shame. Dissociation can happen during the trauma or later on when thinking about or being reminded of the trauma. Dissociation commonly goes along with traumatic events and PTSD”.


8. Treatment of Dissociation

8.1 How is dissociation treated?

“Dissociative disorders are managed through various therapies including: Psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) Medications such as antidepressants can treat symptoms of related conditions”.

9. Useful Links


10.  Our Final Thoughts

Since our Dad was hospitalised and the events that have occurred since we are learning so many things that we weren’t aware of. Grief can affect you in so many ways, ways that we wouldn’t necessarily associate with the process. This is one of the reasons we decided to cover this topic.

We hope this topic might be of use to someone, and we hope it might help to create awareness on this matter.


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