3 Best Ways of Dealing with Complicated Grief
We bring you help for complicated grief from experts in bereavement. Dealing with complicated grief first depends on recognising that you have a problem. So how do you know if you have complicated grief and how do you overcome it?
Normal versus Complicated Grief
Grief affects everyone at some stage or another of our lives and is always going to be different for all of us. The way we cope with grief depends on so many factors. Who died, our relationship with them, our state of mind and health at the time of the bereavement, our support systems and family and finally our own personalities. But having said that, most people, once the shock has passed, can start to function normally and gradually get back to coping with day to day life.
Complicated grief (known also as 'traumatic grief', 'prolonged grief' or 'persistent complex bereavement disorder' - PCBD) occurs when the symptoms of grief are unduly prolonged and get in the way of normal life. You may be more at risk for complicated grief if you have experienced:
- difficult relationships with your parents,
- controlling relationships by parents or partner,
- separation anxiety,
- death of your parents during childhood,
- a poorly-functioning marriage,
- emotional dependency on the deceased,
- a very sudden or traumatic loss.
What Is Complicated Grief and How Do You Know If You Have It?
If you can answer yes to any of the following AND the symptoms have been going on for a long time, you may have complicated grief and it would be advisable to seek help. (We suggest ways of getting help below).
- Have you been grieving intensely for six months or more?
- Does your grief dominate your life?
- Is your grief still as intense as it was immediately after your loved one died?
- Is your grief getting in the way of carrying out your normal routines?
- Is your grief affecting your work?
- Are you preoccupied with feelings of intense sadness, longing or yearning?
- Do you feel constant emptiness and loneliness?
- Are you feeling bitter or angry?
- Are you feeling depressed?
- Do you find it difficult to engage in happy memories?
- Are you avoiding reminders of your loved one?
- Do you have a lack of motivation in carrying out your plans and activities?
- Do you sometimes wish you could follow the deceased or want to harm yourself?
You can also do the actual Inventory for Complicated Grief Assessment here, and if you get a score of 24 or more, you could have a diagnosis of complicated grief disorder.
Getting Help for Complicated Grief
Many of the above symptoms are also normal consequences of grief but if you answered yes to one or more of the questions AND the symptoms have been going on for a long time, you may need help for complicated grief.
There is no shame in asking for help, or admitting that you are unable to cope or move on with your bereavement. Research shows that up to 20% of those dealing with loss may have a prolonged and intense experience of grief, so you are certainly not alone.
Even if you don't meet the exact criteria for 'persistent complex bereavement disorder', there is no harm in getting some additional support in any case if you are unhappy with the way you feel.
3 Ways to Overcome Complicated Grief
Most people with complicated grief will need some professional help to overcome their symptoms and move on with their lives. There are various ways to find help.
- Consult your general practitioner who will be able to suggest a number of solutions, such as a grief support group or refer you to a psychologist. They will also be able to review your physical health as this can sometimes be affected by the stress of grief.
- Try an alternative therapy such as hypnotherapy or yoga which have been shown to be effective in calming the mind and helping us to think more positively about our experiences.
- Research has shown that psychotherapy (cognitive behavourial therapy - CBT) is an effective treatment in overcoming complicated grief. Try to find a psychologist or counsellor who is experienced in grief therapy. We recommend online counselling from BetterHelp.com because they have highly professional experts qualified in grief and bereavement counselling and it gives you the freedom to have sessions whenever suits you in your own home. Read more about it here.
How Do I Know If I Need Bereavement Counselling?
Can Bereavement Cause Mental Illness?
Can Bereavement Cause Depression?
Get Private and Confidential Help in the Privacy of Your Own Home
- Simply fill out the online questionnaire and you will be assigned the expert grief counselor most suitable for you. It only takes a few minutes and you don't even have to use your name.
- Pay an affordable FLAT FEE FOR UNLIMITED SESSIONS.
- Contact your counselor whenever you like by chat, messaging, video or phone.
- You can change counselor at any time if you wish.
- Click here to find out more and get started immediately.
- Or read more about how online counseling works here.
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Grief and Sympathy Home
Memorial Magnolia Tree
The Magnolia is one of the earth's oldest plants, with a spectacular flower which dates back 95 million years. What a beautiful specimen to commemorate a life.
These trees are grown by the foremost magnolia nursery in the USA and they will send a variety most suited to the recipient's climate.
The flowers in spring will bring joy to the bereaved and help to heal their heart.
Only available in the USA.
For Memorial Trees within the UK, click here
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> Dealing with Complicated Grief
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