The components of complicated grief

by Greg Lincoln

Friends, quyana for your continued support and great kindness while we are grieving for the loss of our beloved one. This grief has been unbelievable, unfathomable, the kind that completely decimates. Through this sad journey we are still learning how to live with our loss, thank you for always being there and for understanding that we are the way we are.
Grief is the natural response that occurs to a person when we lose something that is meaningful to us and our lives. This grief changes as we struggle to adapt as we go on with life.
If the loss is permanent, so is the grief. Our kindred hearts go out to you, you who are surviving and living through this permanent grief, this sorrow of all sorrows.
There is also acute grief. Acute grief takes place during the early days immediately following a loss and often dominates the life of a bereaved person. There are intense feelings of yearning, longing and sorrow – we have all felt and gone through this at some point in our lives. Thoughts and memories of the person who passed on are persistent and always present – don’t we think about them all the time? Our minds and thoughts are always of them unceasingly.
Emotions that hurt and are painful are common. Those include anxiety, anger, remorse, guilt or shame. That is why we need to tend to our bereaved loved ones with gentle care and compassion.
Complicated grief has very specific characteristics. One of them is the irrational thinking that the deceased will reappear and how you would react if that were to happen. These unrealistic thoughts are common and the bereaved person often feels like they are alone.
Along with these irrational thoughts are maladaptive thoughts. Maladaptive thinking is to think what has not happened but could, would, or might under differing conditions. It sounds kind of confusing but maybe it makes sense to you. People with complicated grief think over and over again, second guessing the passing of their loved one – especially if the loss was sudden and unexpected. Those with this complicated grief spend a lot of time thinking and ruminating over these types of thoughts.
Sudden and unexpected loss can test the very strength of the survivors, straining them to the very ends of their wits, pushing them to the limit of their ability to cope, to understand, and to continue to do the things that they need to do. This includes caring for their other children.
Another characteristic of complicated grief are dysfunctional behaviors. One is to avoid reminders of the loss and/or escaping from the sadness and pain of reality. Sometimes the bereaved will avoid people and places and activities especially that hold reminders of the memories of their loved one. If a person is inclined to these avoidance behaviors, it becomes a problem when it is the only way a person deals with their painful emotions.
Avoiding and avoiding is antisocial and you need others to help you to heal. Everyone needs someone. Why? Because it is part of our human nature to be drawn to others for comfort, for help.
And lastly, people with complicated grief do not give themselves any respite or reprieve from their grief. In fact, they do the opposite and focus on the things that make them emotional, over and over again. Their regular routines of sleep, eating nutritious meals, exercising, and socializing are disrupted, upsetting and making it more difficult to manage their emotions of pain and sadness.
Those who are experiencing complicated grief are known to have had exceptionally strong, bonded, and rewarding relationships to the one who has passed on.
This realm of complicated grief encompasses many lives, those who have it are around us and may be in our very midst. Let us keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

1 Comment

  1. Sorry for you and your family loss and I know your loved one must have been very proud of you. I am proud of you, and I think you have turned into a great contributing community member…long time since the Yupiktak Bista Manpower, Youth Career Exploration trip that I supervised back in the mid-late 1970’s.

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