Have you heard of Complicated Grief? I really hadn’t until I began educating myself on loss and grief. And, really, isn’t all grief complicated, messy, unpredictable and like nothing else you’ve ever experienced?
In technical, grief-world terms, Complicated Grief is more severe than the typical loss-related experience and unique from depression and anxiety. According to Holly Prigerson, PhD, a Yale University psychologist, roughly 15% of people who’ve lost a loved one might be Complicated Grievers (APA). It is typically associated with traumatic deaths and the loss of children or young people. Important to note is that those who have suffered with depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug addiction challenges are even more vulnerable to Complicated Grief.
With Complicated Grief, things worsen over time and do not move to a better state.
These grievers have difficulty accepting the death, are detached with little to no ability to enjoy life, and possess an intense obsession with the deceased person. In short, a person with Complicated Grief is so absorbed with the deceased person that his or her days are an insufferable, painful yearning with no hope for the future.
In contrast, in Normal Grief (sigh!) the pain and grief behaviors such as insomnia, fatigue, and overt sadness dissipate over time, and these grievers are able to reclaim their lives once again – even if drastically different.
Psychology Today explains that Complicated Grievers “keep the yearning process alive through their habits.”
Complicated Grievers create shrines for the deceased and continually talk about them and look at their pictures. There is no room in their lives for anything but memories.
What can you do if you believe that you are a part of the 15% who are experiencing Complicated Grief? Do you find your grief adversely impacting all of your relationships?
If this is ringing true for you, first please allow me to acknowledge your pain and admire your bravery.
Now, consider these action-items – – –
Educate yourself on Grief, Complicated Grief and change behavior which allows you to begin to form definitions, descriptions, and rationale on how you feel. You may find this knowledge extraordinarily empowering. Education is always a good first step.
Reflect on your actions and habits. Acknowledging that you are doing things that, upon honest reflection, are interfering with the quality of your life is vital. First acknowledging allows you to then take action to change the actions and habits.
Find support with Complicated grief treatment (CGT). The program may be offered by a trained therapist in your area. And, I would also be honored if you would consider The Grief Compass Events including Workshops and support groups.
All of these actions require that you be at least 1% open to the possibility that you can find joy again.
Just to the possibility! I’m not even saying you have to believe it can happen – – – just that a very small part of you must be willing to say I’m not sure, but maybe I can reenter life.
Just 1%. Can you do it? You’re worth it, and so much more.