It’s common that grief will cause a strain on our day to day living, and normally it takes an extended period of time after a bereavement to start to adapt to life after the loss of a loved one. Even after coming to terms with loss, there will still be days that can leave the person who is grieving feeling like they had in those early days after the bereavement. While these days can feel extremely overwhelming, over a period of time, people slowly learn how to cope and bounce back to a ‘new’ normal.
Complicated grief is where people who are grieving are unable to bounce back and are unable to cope with their daily routine. Generally, there is something about the experience that leaves the bereaved person feeling stuck and struggling to cope with the emotional impact of the grieving that they are experiencing.
The majority of research shows that complicated grief starts to become identifiable in a bereaved person from around 6 months after a bereavement, however this isn’t a rule, as everybody’s experience of grief and how they cope with it is unique.
Why does Grief become complicated?
There is still a lot of ongoing research being done in this area before experts can be very sure of the exact reasons, however there are some issues that help researchers pinpoint the areas of grief that contribute to it becoming complicated such as the circumstances of loss, the relationship and age of the deceased person, and the personality of the individual who is experiencing the loss. Existing mental health conditions can make it harder for bereaved person to process and cope with their grief.
It is very clear that it isn’t a choice and that complicated grief is a result of a combination of difficult circumstances.
How do I know If I am experiencing complicated grief?
It is typical to lose your daily routine following a bereavement. After a shock, people need time to adapt and process what has happened both emotionally and physically. Individuals need time to work out what they need to do to cope and survive. This can feel intense and overwhelming; Christmas bereavement gift and memorial gift ideas might help you to remember your loved one.
Where grief becomes complicated, that initial intense and overwhelming feeling that are extremely common at the early stages of grief, stays for a prolonged period of time. As time goes on, the attempt to try and cope with these feelings can start to cause a destructive effect on our day to day living, such as carrying out simple tasks and communicating with others. Over a longer period of time it will start to cause ill health so it is important to seek help if you feel like you are experiencing complicated grief.
In some cases, people have slowly shut off their feelings in a method to try and cope with how they are feeling, this is a normal reaction with people trying to cope with losing a loved one. However, if this means of coping is prolonged, it may lead to the individual withdrawing from daily life and becoming isolated.
How to deal with it if I am feeling this way?
If you can relate to any of the above or have a loved one who is bereaving, it is worth seeking professional help from an expert who can help you to look at the way you have reacted and processed the loss. There are many people to talk to such as volunteers, bereavement support workers and your local GP. If you feel like you are experiencing complicated grief by talking with the people mentioned above and letting them know you are finding it difficult, they might be able to take steps to get you more support which may help you to move forwards.