Complicated Grief: When You Have Difficulties in Grieving

What is Complicated Grief?

When grief lasts longer than usual, is more intense than usual, interferes with daily functioning, and prevents the mourner from moving on, it is called complicated grief. It is grief that has not reached resolution because the mourner is stuck somewhere and for some reason in his/her grief.

What are Some Signs of Complicated Grief?

  1. Constantly focusing on the loss
  2. Preoccupation with sorrow
  3. Holding on to the possessions of the deceased
  4. Avoiding thoughts or reminders of the deceased
  5. Intense longing for the deceased
  6. Problems accepting the death
  7. Fantasies that the person is still alive
  8. Numbness or detachment
  9. Bitterness about the loss
  10. Depression
  11. Self blame
  12. Feeling that life is meaningless
  13. Inability to enjoy life
  14. Trouble functioning
  15. Withdrawing from social activities
  16. Feeling that life isn’t worth living
  17. Losing the sense of purpose in life
  18. Losing your identity without the presence of the loved one
  19. Wishing you had died along with the loved one
  20. Having trouble moving on

Factors That Can Make Grief Complicated

  1. An unexpected or violent death
  2. Multiple deaths
  3. Lack of a support system

    1. Not enough support
    2. Criticism by the “supportive” people
  4. Close attachment to or dependency on the deceased
  5. Ambivalence toward the deceased
  6. Death by suicide or violence
  7. Previous unresolved grief
  8. Previous unresolved trauma
  9. Feelings of intense guilt
  10. Identity issues

    1. Who am I now that he/she is gone?
  11. Religious issues

    1. How could God do this to me?
    2. What did I do that was so bad as to deserve this punishment from God?

Therapy for Complicated Grief

Therapy for complicated grief may involve getting help from a professional, from a psychologist or from a psychiatrist. A psychologist will help the mourner to get unstuck from their grief and will address the troubling issues that are complicating the grief. A psychiatrist may prescribe medications that will provide comfort to the mourner, as the grief process proceeds. Various methods of therapy and various medications are available to help the mourner. And research shows that they are quite successful in what they do.

People with Complicated Grief May Need Extra Help.