Complicated Grief

Usually complicated grief is grief that goes on longer than “normal”. And instead of a person slowly healing as they work through the grief cycle, they can actually find they are coping worse as time goes by instead of better.

You will hear words like; more painful, debilitating, unresolved, protracted, traumatic, prolonged sense of mourning, inability to recover, overwhelmed by emotions, is severe enough to interfere with daily functioning.



Actually many of the other grief definitions fall under the blanket of complicated or unresolved grief – absent grief – inhibited grief- delayed grief – conflicted grief- chronic grief.


Complicated Grief Symptoms

The symptoms can include but aren’t limited to:

  • intense loneliness
  • extreme avoidance of reminders
  • unstoppable thoughts, memories or images of deceased
  • sense that grieving less would be “dis” loyal or that the grief itself is all that they have left of person
  • denial of death
  • numbness –detachment
  • depression – inability to enjoy life
  • inability to carry out normal routines
  • withdrawing from social outlets
  • irritability – agitation
  • suicidal thoughts
  • uncharacteristically engaging in reckless behavior
  • severe disruption of sleep habits
  • obsessive thoughts of death – or opposite


Complicated Grief Silhouette



We will experience many of the symptoms mentioned above. 

It is the intensity and duration that define whether what you are experiencing is “normal”, healthy bereavement or if you have moved into complicated grief.

Also considered is the number of symptoms that you are experiencing.




According to Mayo Clinic, if you are experiencing a majority of these symptoms they believe you
could benefit from professional grief counseling.

  • can focus on little but your loved one’s death
  • have persistent pinning 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


If you believe that you may be experiencing this kind of grief do not try to “go it alone”! Seek help. If your regular support systems are not helping you to heal consider seeking the help of someone who has been trained to guide you through the grieving process and into healing.

If you are not sure where to find this kind of help start by asking your pastor, hospital or hospice staff, or your local senior center as they are likely to be able to put you in touch with the proper resources.




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Scripture Verse

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Psalm 46:1