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Grief and Loss in Personal Injury Cases

A Brief Summary of the Following Article:

  • Impacts: Experiencing a personal injury or wrongful death brings significant physical and emotional challenges, making it essential to navigate these difficult times with professional guidance.
  • Grieving Process: The stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, providing a framework to understand and normalize the complex emotions associated with loss.
  • Physical Effects: Grief also impacts the body significantly, affecting psychological health and increasing physiological responses such as adrenocortical activity, which can lead to long-term health risks and changes in brain chemistry.
  • Legal Support: Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers offers experienced legal assistance to help clients deal with wrongful death and personal injury cases, ensuring a thorough consideration of both immediate and future needs for compensation.

When you experience a personal injury or the devastation of a wrongful death in the family, the impacts are both physical and deeply emotional. These incidents can upend your life, making it challenging to navigate the complex legal process on your own. In these challenging times, the support of a compassionate personal injury attorney is crucial. A seasoned attorney can help you pursue the compensation you deserve for both your immediate needs and long-term concerns, including ongoing medical care, emotional suffering, and, in cases of wrongful death, the loss of a loved one.

At Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers, our attorneys are dedicated to helping you navigate the aftermath of your loss. Our seasoned attorneys have over 45 years of combined experience providing dedicated and sympathetic legal support throughout every stage of the claims process. We understand the profound personal challenges you are facing and can handle every detail of your case as you focus on your family. To learn more about how our accomplished attorneys can help you, call us today at (617) 391-9001 or complete our contact form

The Stages of Grief After a Personal Injury Accident or Wrongful Death

The grieving process is a deeply personal journey that involves navigating through various emotional stages. These stages provide a framework for understanding the complex emotions associated with loss. Recognizing these stages can be reassuring, helping individuals realize their feelings are normal and that they are not alone in their experience. The five stages of grief include the following:


This initial stage acts as an emotional shock absorber, helping individuals cope with the immediate impact of their loss. Common reactions include disbelief and a sense of detachment from reality. For example, the sudden death of a family member might trigger numbness or a refusal to accept the truth.


As the buffering effect of denial begins to wear off, it may be replaced by feelings of anger. This anger can be directed at other people, such as medical staff or the deceased themselves, or at abstract concepts like fate or a higher power. This stage reflects the pain of the loss and is often a response to feeling powerless and unfairly treated by the circumstances.


In the bargaining stage, individuals often dwell on what could have been done differently to prevent the loss or bargain with fate to alleviate some of the pain. Thoughts like “If only…” are especially common, representing a desperate attempt to regain control or postpone the acceptance of the loss.


This stage is marked by a sense of emptiness and deep sadness as the individual begins to understand the extent of their loss and its permanent impact on their life. Unlike clinical depression, this is a natural and expected response to grief, characterized by withdrawal, low energy, and a reduced sense of pleasure in activities the individual previously enjoyed.


The final stage of grief is acceptance, where individuals come to terms with the reality of their loss. It doesn’t mean happiness or forgetting the loved one, but finding a way to live with the loss. During this stage, the individual may begin to re-engage with their daily activities and move forward, while still remembering and missing their loved one.

How Grief and Loss Impact the Body

Grief has significant psychological and physiological effects on the body. The impacts are often substantial and can manifest in various forms, according to a study published in The Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine. A few of the findings include the following:

Psychological Impacts

Grief can have an intense effect on mental health, often presenting through symptoms of anxiety and depression. These symptoms are particularly severe in the initial months following a loss. While they may decrease over time, they can occasionally develop into major depressive disorders. The risk is when an individual is unable to accept or move forward from a loss, suggesting that the way the loss is processed can impact the individual’s resulting mental health.

Physiological Responses

Physiologically, grief triggers an increase in adrenocortical activity, a response involving the adrenal gland that affects the production of corticosteroids–the stress hormone. This response can lead to various stress-related symptoms and can have a negative impact on the body’s immune responses. This weakened immune response can make grieving individuals more susceptible to physical illnesses.

Long-term Health Risks

The study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine also highlights how grief increases vulnerability to physical illnesses and even death in the long term, particularly within the first two years following the loss. This effect is more pronounced in men than in women, suggesting a gender difference in the body’s response to grief.

Neurobiological Changes

When significant life events, such as a loss, occur, they can impact the brain’s neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters play a crucial role in how brain cells communicate. The disruption can lead to psychological symptoms and physical signs such as lethargy that are commonly associated with depression. Over time, these changes might also influence how the individual’s genes respond to stressors. This can have lasting effects on an individual’s ability to handle stress and can contribute to ongoing challenges with mental health.

How to Cope With Grief and Loss After a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death

After a personal injury or wrongful death, many individuals feel lost, confused, and unsure of how to cope and carry on. If you have recently experienced a painful loss, the tips below may be able to help you regain a sense of normalcy:

Embrace the Grieving Process

Allowing yourself to grieve is crucial in the aftermath of a wrongful death. Grief is a natural response to loss, and acknowledging your emotions is essential for healing. Suppressing these feelings or staying in denial can offer temporary relief but may lead to more severe emotional distress over time. It’s important to confront and process your grief to avoid long-term psychological issues.

Cultivate a Support Network

Building a strong support system is another vital step in coping with loss. Surround yourself with friends and family who understand what you’re going through and can offer emotional support. Consider joining a grief support group as well. These groups provide a safe environment where you can share your feelings and learn from others who are facing similar challenges, helping you realize that you are not alone in your journey.

Establish New Daily Routines

If you lost a family member due to negligence, your daily routine may remind you of your lost loved one, especially if they were closely intertwined with your everyday activities. Continuing these routines may be painful, triggering grief responses. Creating new routines can help maintain your emotional and mental health, providing structure and a new beginning during a difficult time. Whether it’s changing your morning habits or finding new hobbies, adjustments can facilitate coping and healing over time.

Seek Professional Legal Guidance

After experiencing a personal injury or wrongful death, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced attorney. Legal professionals can guide you through the process of filing a claim and seeking compensation for your losses. They can also help you understand how the incident occurred, offering a sense of closure. By handling the legal process on your behalf, an attorney can take a significant amount of stress off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on your emotional recovery.

Damages an Attorney May Be Able to Help You Recover Through a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim

When you or someone you love suffers a wrongful death or severe personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, the emotional and financial impact on the family can be devastating. It is crucial for surviving family members to understand their rights to compensation for both wrongful death and personal injury damages. 

At Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers, our attorneys are deeply committed to understanding your unique needs as we pursue a claim for your economic and non-economic losses. A few types of damages we may be able to help you secure include the following:

  • Funeral Expenses: We help cover all costs associated with funeral and burial services, easing the financial strain during this emotionally difficult time.
  • Loss of Inheritance: Expected future wages and savings that the deceased would have likely accumulated may be recovered to ensure the family’s future financial security.
  • Medical Costs: These damages extend to all medical expenses sustained from the victim’s final injury or ongoing care needed for personal injuries, protecting families from the mounting costs of medical bills.
  • Loss of Income: Essential for maintaining financial stability, this compensation is for the deceased or incapacitated person’s lost wages or financial support.
  • Pain and Suffering: These damages address the emotional distress and mental suffering that survivors or the injured party endure.
  • Loss of Consortium: We seek damages for the loss of companionship, affection, and support that the deceased provided, which deeply affects surviving spouses and children.

The seasoned attorneys at Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers ensure both your immediate and future needs are taken into account when determining the value of your claim. This comprehensive approach helps us fight for a settlement that fully represents the full extent of your loss.

Client Testimonials

At Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers, we are dedicated to supporting our clients who have experienced intense grief and loss. We understand the challenges you face and will be at your side through every step of the legal process. 

“My family and I highly recommend Matthieu and the team at Sweeney Merrigan Law. From my first phone call with Matthieu, I was impressed. He listened to my dad’s case, offered his sincere condolences for his passing, and explained the process for moving forward with a lawsuit. Every step of the way, he kept us in the loop and explained what was going on in the background. He is extremely easy to talk to and a true professional. He even sent flowers to my house as a wedding gift! Sweeney Merrigan is a team you can trust and count on!”

Leigha Charboneau

“A friend recommended I called Sweeney Merrigan when I was in need of legal help for my father’s death. From the moment I reached out, Tom and Peter have been extremely helpful, informative, and understanding. I have never felt more trust in anyone’s guidance than theirs. They worked extremely hard for almost two years to help me find justice for his wrongful death. 

If it hadn’t been for them, I would not have been able to find personal justice for what has happened. I will definitely recommend them to anyone looking for an honest and hardworking firm that really is there for the client. Thank you so much! I really can’t put into words how they made this process so easy every step of the way. Never did I doubt their guidance.”

Amie Garrett

Consult With Our Compassionate Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorneys at Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers

At Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers, we are deeply committed to offering exceptional legal support in both wrongful death and personal injury cases. We understand the intense emotional and financial challenges these tragic events can bring, and our goal is to aggressively pursue the justice and compensation you deserve. Our seasoned attorneys, including the accomplished Peter M. Merrigan and Bradley M. Henry, have a proven track record of recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, demonstrating their dedication and effectiveness in these complex legal matters.

Call us today at (617) 391-9001 or complete our contact form to schedule your consultation. Our team is ready to advocate passionately on your behalf and help secure the compensation you need to move forward.