How to Deal with PTSD and Grief at the Same Time

October 29, 2019 Beth Avery

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and grief are very similar at their core. They crash into our lives like a train skidding off the rails, wreck everything that we once knew, and leave us picking up the pieces of our lives in the wreckage. And for some, grief and PTSD occur at the same time. Traumatic events that involve the loss of something or someone special (a car accident, for example) can cause people to develop PTSD and feelings of grief concurrently. For others, trauma and grief occur at different points in their lives but still overlap, forcing them to deal with the emotions of both.

When PTSD and Grief Collide

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a very difficult disorder to handle. Grief is also very difficult to handle. I wouldn't wish either of them on my worst enemy. Because of this, dealing with PTSD and grief at the same time can be very overwhelming. They evoke such strong emotions that being able to heal from them seems impossible.

My own PTSD and grief developed over time, weaving in and out of each other until they became a tangled mess. As I slowly removed myself from my traumatic past and started building a safe and secure life of my own, all the feelings I had kept bottled up for so long started leaking out. It was confusing. 

I always thought grief was just for people who had lost a loved one, so I didn't come to understand my own grief until rather recently. My family members are all still alive and in relatively decent health, so I didn't think I had the right to grieve them. What I came to understand, however, is that there is more than one way to lose a person. My grief was complicated, but it was still valid.

How to Cope with PTSD and Grief

The hardest part about dealing with PTSD and grief at the same time is being able to understand what I'm feeling. Grief, depression, and general sadness can feel similar, but the way I deal with all three of those is different. Being able to name and identify my emotions goes a long way in my recovery.

When I'm feeling depressed, I do my best to work my way out of it. Depression is a state of mind that I get stuck in, and getting unstuck is my priority when I'm feeling depressed. With grief, though, I don't try to work my way out of it. Grief is something we have to feel to get through it. So when I'm feeling grief, I let myself feel and I let myself cry.

Grief is an important part of healing from a significant loss in your life. If you've lost someone or something you care about, don't be afraid to mourn, and don't feel rushed in any way. Much like healing from PTSD, healing from grief takes time. As you begin to feel, you'll begin to heal as well. 

APA Reference
Avery, B. (2019, October 29). How to Deal with PTSD and Grief at the Same Time, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 30 from

Author: Beth Avery

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March, 19 2021 at 2:48 pm

I found your short video helpful
I’m overwhelmed with Grieve for the loss of my daughter last year
But I’m now also feeling very depressed and suicidal
I have had PTSD 4 times and now believe I’m living it again
They are both very difficult
I am feeling stuck and very overwhelmed
Thank you for your message

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