What Is ‘Normal’ Grief?
What Are Some Chronic Grief Symptoms?
- The pain of loss intensifies – or feelings of numbness don’t abate – at least 6 months to 1 year after the loss.
- Preoccupation with the loss. Intense longing for a lost loved one or former life.
- Bitterness and/or rage.
- Difficulty acknowledging the loss has occurred. Repressing thoughts about the loss. Avoiding situations that are reminders of the loss.
- Depression – especially hopeless thoughts and feelings.
- Apathy – aka ‘giving up because I just don’t care’ – sets in.
- Relationship strain. Problems with intimacy, or withdrawing from friends and social activities.
- Experiencing distressing, intrusive thoughts related to the loss.
- Believing life no longer has meaning or purpose.
- Increased irritability or agitation
How Do You Treat Chronic Grief?
The good news is that stuck grief usually responds well to counseling designed specifically to overcome chronic grief symptoms. Depending on cause and nature of chronic grief, some or all of the following therapeutic approaches may be used:
- Chronic grief can be aggravated by either avoiding or being preoccupied by the loss. The therapist may work with the client to help them gradually overcome their fear of facing the loss and/or teach them how to stop fixating on the loss. Sometimes techniques are used that are similar to those used to overcome phobias, or post traumatic stress disorder.
- In cases of chronic grief due to bereavement, the griever may be guided by the therapist to hold imagined conversations with the deceased or retell the story of their death, to help them become less distressed by thoughts or images of their loved one.
- Thoughts and beliefs may be explored and emotions expressed, to help the griever overcome guilt and blame, and to begin to build a more hopeful vision for the future.
- The therapist will often educate the client about ‘normal’ grief processes, and help them understand their grief reactions and complicated grief symptoms, and assist them in both adjusting to the loss and setting new life goals.
- Where appropriate, emphasis will likely be placed on strengthening or rebuilding relationships, and reducing social isolation.
Need Help Overcoming ‘Stuck’ Grief? Visit my Grief & Loss Counseling web page
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