Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things you will go through. It can be so hard to digest and understand the fact that you will not see that person again, and this can be a hard pill to swallow. It can be hard to move on when someone is taken away from you. The pain of losing someone can lead to emotional suffering, and our natural response to this is to grieve.

Grief is a strong, overwhelming emotion and feeling of sadness stemming from losing a loved one or going through a very traumatic experience. So, what is “complicated grief,” and what are the signs you could be suffering from this condition?

What is Complicated Grief?

Losing someone close to you is very distressing and upsetting, but unfortunately, it is a ubiquitous experience for us all. Most people deal with bereavement through stages of grief such as anger, sorrow, a feeling of numbness, and even guilt. Despite how impossible it feels, these feelings ease over time for many. For others, losing someone can be incredibly painful and debilitating, and those feelings of loss, sadness, grief, and anger may not ease or pass after time. This is what we call “complicated grief.”

Complicated grief is an ongoing bereavement disorder. It is extreme and painful, with more severe and long-lasting emotions than others experiencing grief and bereavement. These feelings may be so strong that they overwhelm the person’s life. While everyone grieves differently, complicated grief may prevent someone from healthy processing.

Signs of Complicated Grief

When you are grieving a loss, you shouldn’t force yourself to ignore your feelings. When we grieve, we often go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. With typical grief, these symptoms and the feeling of loss and sadness gradually lessen over time. These feelings can be ongoing and heightened with complicated grief, which prevents you from moving on and healing.

Some Signs of Complicated Grief are:

·Struggle to accept the death of a loved one
·Inability to focus on anything else but the loss
·Intense feelings of sadness, sorrow, or anger
·Loss of trust
·Loss of interest in others
·Longing for the deceased person
·Increased focus on reminders and memories of the loved one
·Bitterness and anger due to the loss
·Unable to enjoy life
·Struggle to complete everyday routines and responsibilities
·Increased depression or sadness
·Feelings that you could have done more or prevented the death in some way
·Wishing you had died instead
·Feeling that your life is not worth living
·Isolation from friends and family
·Changes in behavior due to trauma

How to Process Complicated Grief

Complicated grief does not need to rule your life. Talking about your grief, thoughts, feelings, and inner struggles is vital in allowing yourself to process your pain. Even if it seems incredibly difficult and painful, allowing yourself to cry, relive events and memories, and talk about that loved one is the best way to process your grief. Support systems are essential as well. Whether it is family members, a partner, friends, or a support group, this will be beneficial in your recovery from complicated grief. There may also be dedicated groups in your area to help you cope with the loss. Similarly, you can also sign up for bereavement counseling or depression therapy to help you healthily process your loss. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you can seek outside support from a mental health counselor or psychotherapist who is trained in helping others deal with the complications that grief can cause. If you are struggling with complicated grief and feel like you can’t move on, know that there is hope. Life after loss isn’t easy, but with help, it is absolutely possible.

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