Survivors May Face Challenging Grieving Process After a Wrongful Death

Five Stages of The Grieving ProcessAlmost 50 years ago in 1969, noted psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified “Five Stages of Grief” in her now world-famous book On Death and Dying. She pointed out that these stages do not necessarily appear in a certain order in each individual, but that grieving people almost always go through them, perhaps sometimes not experiencing all five of them.

The Five Stages of Grief Kubler-Ross described which are still widely recognized today are:

Denial—Difficulty accepting that the loss has really occurred. This stage may take days, weeks, or months to work through–in extreme cases, years. The grieving person may feel distanced and removed from their emotions. This is an important time for them to surround themselves with support.

Anger—A phase in which the survivor blames the loss on others especially those who may have been directly or indirectly involved with the death. This stage, too, can be extended especially if the loved one’s death was due to the negligence or another party.

Bargaining—A wish to have more time with the loved one. The grieving person may suddenly lash out in frustration at friends and other family members. They may try to bargain with a higher power making promises that they believe they will keep if somehow the loved one is miraculously brought back to them.

Depression—The depth of sadness the survivor experiences at the loss while others believe the grieving person should be “getting over” their loss. Sadness or loneliness can be healthy and should not be suppressed because others feel uncomfortable experiencing the intensity of someone else’s grief.

Acceptance—A final step indicating some resolution and the ability to move forward with other loved ones and give back to others. The grieving person will start to enjoy life and avoid isolation. Grief will remain but he or she will have the capacity to again experience humor, beauty, hope and companionship.

Additional Stages of Grief

Some who have studied grief would also add to the stages feelings of Pain and Guilt, “Lifting” (Getting Better) and Reconstruction. During the Pain and Guilt stage the grieving person may feel guilty about things they wish they would have done differently during their loved one’s life. With the Lifting sensation, grief begins to lessen and life becomes calmer. Gradually life starts to have meaning again and physical symptoms of grief may start to disappear. During Reconstruction many people begin to see solutions to problems and are able to think more clearly, feeling as though they have emerged from being under an intense cloud. The grieving person begins to learn how to live their life without their loved one.

Grief can have prolonged and acute effects including:

• Developing some form of an anxiety disorder – About 40% of those losing a loved one experience this in the year following the death.
• Unusual stress – Many experience severe physical symptoms.
• Grief triggers. These are things like a favorite song shared with the deceased loved one, a favorite place or a special holiday or anniversary of an occasion once shared with the person who has died.

Wrongful Death and Grief

When a family member dies from an illness or a sudden heart attack, there is certainly a time for sorrow, but when a loved one dies due to negligence on the part of others, it may fit the legal definition of a wrongful death and it can be especially hard for the survivor not to feel anger because the death was very likely preventable.
Wrongful death in Ohio is governed by Chapter 2125 of the Ohio Revised Code and is defined as a death that is caused by a “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another.

The senseless nature of the death may play over and over again in the survivor’s mind and before that suffering person realizes it anger is consuming their thoughts. Ignoring or trying to suppress feelings of grief is not a good strategy. Healing takes work and you may have to consult a professional during the stages of grief.

Sometimes the law isn’t structured in a way that grants sufferers the kind of flexibility they need to work their way through all the stages of grief before they can even think about taking legal action. It seems so hopeless when there is nothing you can do to bring back the husband or wife you have lost or the child or parent.

The statute of limitations for wrongful death defines the time beyond which a claim of wrongful death cannot be pursued. In Ohio the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years. The statute may begin to run on the date of death, upon discovery of the person’s cause of death or upon discovery of the defendant’s negligent conduct.

In order to obtain compensation to meet future financial challenges in the family left behind, survivors must begin to think about potentially filing wrongful death claims on behalf of their loved one and about retaining an experienced lawyer to assist them–one whose legal guidance is rooted in empathy for the grieving process. It is seldom a pleasant thing to relive what happened, but you can take comfort in the fact that you are trying to provide for the family as your loved one was doing before his or her death.

A wrongful death claim may be filed under Ohio law if the wrongful conduct “would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.” It may be that one or more parties are responsible for the death or that a corporation caused the death. It does not matter. Survivors can still make wrongful death claims against those at fault.
Under Ohio law, the executor or appointed administrator of the deceased person’s estate is the only person who can file a wrongful death action on behalf of the deceased’s surviving beneficiaries such as the deceased’s spouse, children, parents, siblings or grandparents.

Damages Recoverable in Wrongful Death

The estate is permitted to recover a number of different types of damages including:

• Loss of support (based on the compensation the deceased person would have earned if he or she had lived);
• Loss of the services the deceased person would have performed;
• Loss of the care, companionship, advice, guidance counsel, instruction, or society of the deceased person;
• Loss of the prospective inheritance of the deceased’s spouse or children;
• Mental anguish suffered by the surviving family members as a result of the untimely death.

The estate may also be entitled to recover damages for the deceased person’s conscious pain and suffering prior to death, the value of the medical expenses incurred prior to death and reasonable funeral and burial expenses.

It is the duty of those in the legal system to speak up against the injustice of wrongful death. A wrongful death lawyer seeks compensation for family members of the deceased and also attempts to bring reconciliation and comfort to victims in their time of grief.

Wrongful Deaths in Ohio

If you believe your loved one’s death fits the description of a wrongful death in Ohio, you should contact our law firm and ask for a FREE and private consultation with one of our highly experienced attorneys to discuss the best action to take in your particular situation.

Contact us by calling 1-888-459-0765, chat with one of our 24-hour live chat representatives or send us a website message.

You may also be interested in ordering our FREE and informative book titled, A Wrongful Death in Ohio: Actions Families Can Take After the Wrongful Death of a Loved One.

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