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Recognizing Complicated Grief: When Mourning Becomes a Mental Health Issue

complicated grief

Whether it’s the passing of a loved one, the end of a long-term relationship or an unexpected job loss, everyone mourns at some point. However, when the initial mourning period becomes an overwhelming, extended and disruptive emotion, it may be a sign of complicated grief. In observation of Grief Awareness Day on Aug. 30, let’s take a closer look at complicated grief and how it can profoundly impact your loved one’s health and happiness.

What Is Complicated Grief?

Also known as persistent complex bereavement disorder, complicated grief is a condition where someone struggles with the intensity and duration of natural grief symptoms. These symptoms can persist for months or years, making it challenging for the person to regain a sense of normalcy in their life.

Complicated grief is more than feeling sadness over a loss. It encompasses a spectrum of overwhelming emotions and behaviors.

  1. Incessant yearning for the deceased, to the extent where daily functioning becomes a challenge.
  2. Preoccupation with the departed or the circumstances surrounding their death.
  3. Extreme bitterness or anger related to the loss.
  4. Difficulty accepting the changed reality.
  5. Detachment from others, leading to social isolation.
  6. Loss of purpose or identity, often coupled with a lack of trust.

This prolonged grieving process can be so profound that it interrupts every aspect of your loved one’s life, affecting their physical, emotional, social and even occupational well-being.

When Should Friends and Family Intervene?

While mourning is a deeply personal process, and there’s no “right” timeline or way to grieve, here are some indications that grief has transformed into a more complex and concerning issue.

  1. Duration: If the intense grieving persists without any signs of relief even after a year, it may be a cause for concern.
  2. Escalating symptoms: Watch for increasing symptoms like profound sadness, anger, guilt, emotional numbness, self-harm or substance abuse.
  3. Avoidance behavior: It’s a red flag if the person avoids reminders of their loved one, refuses to talk about them or withdraws from social interactions altogether.
  4. Decline in well-being: Your loved one may have a noticeable deterioration in their mental or physical health, such as insomnia, weight loss or persistent fatigue.
  5. Suicidal thoughts: Take any mention or hint of wishing to be with the departed extremely seriously.

When you observe these signs, it’s essential to approach the situation with empathy, compassion and support. Express your concern, share observations without judgment and encourage your loved one to seek professional help.

In some cases, an intervention or crisis de-escalation might be necessary. These situations require extreme sensitivity, ensuring the person feels loved and supported rather than cornered or attacked.

Navigating Family Crises With Expert Interventionists

Facing a family emergency can blur your perspective, making it challenging to discern the broader picture. Intervention On Call provides impartial, third-party guidance. Our expert interventionists assess your circumstances from a critical vantage point and recommend the most appropriate course of action.

With vast experience under their belts, our interventionists are leading specialists in the field. Their extensive training and real-world experience have equipped them to anticipate every denial, justification and diversion tactic. Even in situations that appear bleak, our interventionists have the tools and techniques to steer things back on track.

If your loved one’s grief feels like too much to bear, help from Intervention On Call is only a click or call away. We harness the power of tried-and-true crisis de-escalation strategies, underpinned by industry-leading best practices. Our approach empowers families to take decisive action toward crisis resolution.

Make an Appointment

Each appointment is priced at a flat rate of $150/hour. To get started, all you need to do is complete the accelerated registration process on our secure telehealth platform. In just five minutes, you can access real-time solutions from credentialed interventionists—no more endless searches, racing thoughts, or sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do. We’re here for you.

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