Grief, Loss and Bereavement (Part 1: complicated grief)

Bereavement refers specifically to the process of recovering from the death of a loved one.

Grief is a reaction to any form of loss. Both encompass a range of feelings from deep sadness to anger and everything in-between. The process of adapting to significant loss can vary dramatically from one person to the next.

Everyone grieves in their own time, some recover within 6 months with occasional moments of sadness, others can continue to grieve for years without seeming to improve or find relief, even temporarily.

Complicated grief

Grief is something that a person may never recover from completely but over time it tends to ease. Complicated grief is a term that refers to a persistent form of bereavement that dominates a person’s life, interfering with daily functioning for an extended period of time. The symptoms are the same as with acute (non-impairing) grief, and again the length of time it takes for a person to grieve is highly variable, but when symptoms are endless without improvement, lasting for more than a year and are interfering with a person’s ability to return to routine activities then it is possible that they are experiencing complicated grief. Symptoms may include:

  • Intense sadness
  • Preoccupation with the deceased
  • Longing or yearning
  • Feelings of emptiness or meaninglessness
  • Difficulty in engaging in happy memories
  • Avoiding reminders of the deceased
  • A lack of desire in pursuing personal interests
  • Bitterness or anger

When a person’s grief becomes a cause for concern, seeking help from a counsellor could be effective by helping them cope with; and work through, the symptoms and emotions associated with the loss.

Over the coming weeks we will look at two of the more famous theories of grief, loss and bereavement counselling, Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ 5 stages of grief, and J William Wordens 4 tasks of mourning, and perhaps you can gain insight and understanding into how we deal with these feelings/emotions, and how counselling can help if your grief has progressed to complicated grief.

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