Lifestyle

Recognising Complicated or Prolonged Grief

By: Katelyn Tasker

Grief is a normal human emotion that often accompanies loss.

Losing a job or a marriage, or the death of a loved one, can manifest in periods of extreme sadness, numbness, or guilt.

Much has been written about grief and the ‘stages’ or ‘phases’ that people may go through as they experience it. However, there is no absolute right or wrong way to grieve. As each individual is unique, so too is each individual’s way of grieving. Indeed, people will often grieve how they live. Emotionally expressive people may express their grief quite openly. Whereas more introverted people may grieve privately. Neither is more or less effective, as long as the person feels supported in however they express their grief (provided it is safe).

Stages of Grief

When it comes to the loss of a loved one, most people are able to effectively manage their grief over time with the support of those around them. They move through the intense first days, weeks and months. Whilst they never completely ‘get over’ the loss, they gradually learn to accept and incorporate it into their life in such a way that they can move forward.

However, a small proportion of people (about 10% of people grieving) experience continuous, extreme and disabling grief. This type of grief prevents them from resuming their life. Grief for these people seems to intensify and deepen over time, leading to difficulties in day-to-day functioning. Referred to in the past as ‘complicated’ or ‘prolonged’ grief, such an intense response has recently been recognised as a specific disorder.

Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD)

PGD is characterised by an intense and persistent grief that causes distress and interferes with daily life. Given this, it usually requires more support than family and friends alone can provide. It is important that professional help is sought to relieve such intensifying and debilitating grief symptoms. The good news is that evidence-based treatments are effective in helping those suffering from PGD.

If you or someone you know is experiencing grief of any kind which seems to be enduring, it may be time to see a psychologist, to find support in the process of healing and accepting your loss and finding a way to move forward.


Article supplied with thanks to The Centre for Effective Living.

Feature image: Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash 

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