How to Recognize Complicated Grief

Complicated grief often disrupts relationships with friends and family and makes the bereaved person feel cut off and alone. Complicated grief can make it difficult to function effectively or even to care about functioning. Maybe you know someone who has lost a child, a spouse, a partner, a parent, or a close friend - and you are wondering if they are suffering from complicated grief. If a person has many of the following symptoms for more than six months after the death of a loved one, they may be suffering from complicated grief:

  • Strong feelings of yearning or longing for the person who died
  • Feeling intensely lonely, even when other people are around
  • Strong feelings of anger or bitterness related to the death
  • Feeling like life is empty or meaningless without the person who died
  • Thinking so much about the person who died that it interferes with doing things or with relationships with other people
  • Strong feelings of disbelief about the death or finding it very difficult to accept the death
  • Feeling shocked, stunned, dazed or emotionally numb
  • Finding it hard to care about or to trust other people
  • Feeling very emotionally or physically activated when confronted with reminders of the loss
  • Avoiding people, places, or things that are reminders of the loss
  • Strong urges to see, touch, hear, or smell things to feel close to the person who died

If you think you or someone you know is suffering in this way, you may want to talk to the Center staff about complicated grief. They can help you find out how to get treatment for complicated grief.

Nine months after the death of my daughter, I was deeply depressed and experienced the world only in "shades of grey." I knew I was stuck in my grief, anxiety and depression, but I saw no way to heal myself and move forward. The only memories I had of my daughter were those of her pain and suffering ... I was not motivated to talk to my spouse, family or friends about her. This only served to further my grief, and I knew that I needed help to go on.” Anonymous