Losing someone you love changes you forever. The resulting grief is unfortunately a common experience that all people face. Complicated grief is the inability to adjust to the loss.
Most people that experience normal grief have an intense period of sorrow and numbness. They may even feel guilty and angry. When grief has a natural progression these feelings eventually begin to ease. Over time it becomes possible to gain some acceptance of the loss. And that allows the person to move forward.
For some people, feelings of loss are totally debilitating. And it never gets better. The deep emotions continue, even after time passes. This unresolved grief is referred to as “complicated grief.” Or it is also known as a “persistent complex bereavement disorder”.
In complicated grief, pain and hopelessness is severe. The despondency could even result in suicidal feelings. The person experiencing loss is unable to recover. And finds it impossible to resume their life at a functional level.
Different people follow different paths through the grieving experience. The order and timing of those phases may vary from person-to-person. And the variations and differences are normal.
Five Stages of Grief
Steps to Healing
Acceptance-At some point you must be able to understand the truth of your loss. At that time you will have gone through the five stages of grief.
Feel Your Feelings– Rather than feeling numb or self medicating you feel and experience the pain of your loss.
Adjust Your Life– Adjusting to a replacement reality with the understanding the deceased is not any longer present
Have a Support Group– Having other relationships with friends and family is a key. The close connections with other people allow you to return to the new reality of your life.
Get Help- If you’re unable to maneuver through these stages after 12 to 18 months, you probably have a complicated grief. If so, seek treatment. It can assist you come to terms together with your loss and reclaim a way of acceptance and peace.
Immediately after a loss, many experience devastation. For several months, the signs and symptoms of normal grief are deep. Actually, it is how long you experience that determines if it is complicated grief. While normal grief symptoms start to fade, complicated grief lingers. Complicated grief is a heightened state. And a prolonged state of mourning that blocks all healing.
Signs and Symptoms of Complicated Grief
- Intense sorrow, pain and rumination over the loss of your beloved
- Focus remains on your loved one’s death
- Inability to reconnect relationships; including with children,friends and close family members
- Constantly focused on all reminders of the beloved or even excessive avoidance of memories or reminders
- Intense and protracted longing or pining for the deceased
- Problems accepting the death
- Numbness or detachment
- Bitterness about your loss
- Feeling that life holds no meaning or purpose
- Lack of trust in people
- Inability to enjoy life or remember positive experiences with the one you lost
Complicated grief also could also be indicated if you continue to:
- Have trouble completing normal routines
- Isolate from others and withdraw from social activities
- Experience depression, deep sadness, guilt or self-blame
- Believe that you simply did something wrong or could have prevented the death
- Feel life isn’t worth living without the person you lost
- Wish you had died alongside your beloved