Even though grief is a common reaction to pain and loss in life sometimes it can bring up complications and help is necessary. Grief is a very important part of the process whenever we suffer feelings of loss. People experience grief for a variety of reasons such as changing jobs, moving to a new location, divorce, relationship’s break up, illness, retirement or a significant loss of a pet, spouse, child or parent. Grief is a human way to deal with the feelings of love that we believe have ended. There is no one way to grieve, nor is there one solution for everyone. Every individual grieves differently but it is important to know when the symptoms experienced are part of a normal process of grief or if it has become complicated grief, post traumatic stress disorder, addition to prescribed medication or alcohol, depression etc. Most people’s problem is not the grief itself but the lack of support by having people to confide in plus the rush by society, friends and family for them to be “ok” again. Therefore, sometimes it’s best to seek professional help.
Grief counseling can help you move through the stages of grief easier and more effectively. A good professional grief counselor will help you identify where you are in the grief process and help you deal with the feelings and emotions of your loss. He or she will also help you develop a new way of coping with your life while remembering the person or past in a healthy way.
Signs and symptoms of complicated grief (Mayo Clinic, 2010) can include:
■Extreme focus on the loss and reminders of the loved one
■Intense longing or pining for the deceased
■Problems accepting the death
■Numbness or detachment
■Preoccupation with your sorrow
■Bitterness about your loss
■Inability to enjoy life
■Depression or deep sadness
■Difficulty moving on with life
■Trouble carrying out normal routines
■Withdrawing from social activities
■Feeling that life holds no meaning or purpose
■Irritability or agitation
■Lack of trust in others
When to ask for help:
It’s normal to experience grief after a significant loss. Most people who experience normal or uncomplicated grief can move forward eventually with support from family and friends. But if it’s been several months or more since your loss and your emotions remain so intense or debilitating that you have trouble going about your normal routine, contact me.
Specifically, you may benefit from professional help if you:
■Can focus on little else but your loved one’s death
■Have persistent pining or longing for the deceased person
■Have thoughts of guilt or self-blame
■Believe that you did something wrong or could have prevented the death
■Feel as if life isn’t worth living
■Have lost your sense of purpose in life
■Wish you had died along with your loved one
At times, people with complicated grief may consider suicide. If you’re considering suicide, reach out to someone as soon as possible. The best choice is to call 911 or your local emergency services number.