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Complicated Grief: Your Treatment Options

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Losing someone you care about is never easy, and everyone grieves in their own way. Most people recover and are able to resume their normal activities in a few months. But this too can vary by person, and at times, the loss can be so overwhelming that a person suffers from complicated grief. After the death of some close to you, it's important to understand the normal grieving process and know when you might need counselling to help you overcome this obstacle in your life.

The Normal Grieving Process

No two people go through the same bereavement process. However, there are normal stages that are considered normal for most people:

  • Accepting the loss
  • Experiencing the sorrow and pain
  • Learning to adjust to life without the deceased
  • Moving on

The completion of these steps varies by person, and the grieving process does not always go smoothly. You may have days where you're better able to handle the loss and days when you don't want to get out of bed. This is normal and you should not worry.

Complicated Grieving

Complicated grieving is defined as persistent bereavement. While no one every fully recover from grief, the sadness usually tapers off gradually as the person returns to their everyday activities.  Complicated grief is an ongoing feeling of sadness, and other symptoms may include the following:

  • Lack of desire to go on with life
  • Feelings of meaningless or emptiness
  • Avoiding reminders of the deceased
  • Anger or bitterness
  • Intense sadness
  • Feelings of yearning

When these symptoms last over a year and interfere with a person's life, it's time to consider grief counselling. 

Therapy For Complicated Grief

If you feel that you or a loved one is going through complicated grief, a professional mental health counsellor can help. Each grieving person's needs are unique, so during therapy, a counsellor can discuss feelings and come up with a personalized therapy plan. A counsellor can use a variety of different methods to help the grieving person:

  • Engage in dialogue about the deceased with the deceased
  • Discussing way to maintain a healthy connection with their lost loved one
  • Talk about how remembering the loved one can help with coping

With proper treatment, counselling for complicated grief can help in several ways:

  • Have a better understanding of the mourning process
  • Help the griever adjust to a new sense of self
  • Discuss depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Resolve areas of conflict that can prevent the griever from moving on

If you feel like you that you are having difficulty moving on with life after the loss of someone close to you, or if you have ongoing symptoms of grief, depression, and/or suicidal thoughts, or for more info, you should contact a counsellor who can help work through your feeling and move on in a healthy way.