The Family, Larger Systems, and Traumatic Death

Authored by: David A. Crenshaw

Handbook of Thanatology

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9781138430815
eBook ISBN: 9780203767306
Adobe ISBN: 9781136726507


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The wake of traumatic loss can reverberate through a family system for multiple generations (Kaplow, Saunders, Angold, & Costello, 2010; Schonfeld, 2011). Attachment researchers have found that unresolved grief and trauma reduces the flexibility of adults to access information about childhood and hampers their ability to reflect upon such information in a coherent manner and reduces their likelihood of raising securely attached children (Siegel, 2012). Trauma disrupts the emotional life of the family and in some respects may halt the family’s lifecycle progress. In a family, for example, whose father died in a drive-by shooting, the children may be acting like much younger children 7 years later as if they were trying to turn the clock back to the time before the trauma occurred.

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