Unintentional killing is a serious and anguishing trauma. Without support and treatment, we risk long-term mental health problems. We recommend professional psychotherapy or counseling for anyone who has unintentionally killed or seriously injured another person. A good therapist will offer compassion and understanding, help you cope with your feelings, and encourage you to examine your beliefs. You deserve this support.
When people experience the trauma of unintentional killing, they may wonder, “Am I good anymore?” Or, “Why did this happen to me?” These are profoundly spiritual questions. Some return to their spiritual or religious roots in order to answer such questions. Some flee from them. Many of us find that we cannot deal with the pain of our suffering by ourselves. We need help, and we call on our higher power.
If you are thinking about suicide, please seek help right away. Despite your suffering, you can find relief from pain. You can get through this.
There are a variety of therapeutic methods for treating trauma that research has shown to be effective, such as cognitive processing therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and EMDR. You explore these and others in the Resources section. We also offer links to reputable therapist finder websites. Whatever approach you choose, keep in mind that the quality of the relationship is key to success. You should trust, respect, and feel safe with your therapist. You should feel like he or she listens with compassion and helps you cope. Your therapist should be licensed. Relatively few therapists have experience with unintentional killing, but what matters most is their ability to work with you to achieve your goals.
While spirituality is about our individual meaning-making, religion is meaning-making together with other people. Religions seek to answer important questions about life’s meaning and often have deeply embedded rituals, practices, and beliefs on what to do after causing harm to another person.
All religions have cleansing rituals to wash away sin, or to atone for the ways we have hurt others. It is in these places that religion can help us heal. In addition, most religions have given serious thought to the question of “Where was God on my awful day?” Ask your religious leaders these questions and keep searching until you find answers that resonate with your experience.
Do you perceive God as a stern and punishing power, who metes out justice to those who break His or Her laws? At The Hyacinth Fellowship, we gently encourage you to consider that God is loving and benevolent. The concept of Grace in Christianity, for example, means that God’s love for us does not have to be earned. It is unconditional. In Judaism, the Torah teaches that mercy is integral to God’s nature. And the holy book of Islam, the Quran, also has numerous references to a merciful God, such as, “Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Sura 39 (Az-Zumar), ayah 53). How does your vision of God affect your response to unintentionally harming someone? We hope your beliefs will give you comfort and hope.