Grief is a reaction to any form of loss. Both encompass a range of feelings from deep sadness to anger, and the process of adapting to a significant loss can vary dramatically from one person to another, depending on his or her background, beliefs, relationship to what was lost, and other factors.

Grieving Thoughts and Behaviors

Grief is associated with feelings of sadness, yearning, guilt, regret, anger, among others. Some people may experience a sense of meaninglessness, and others can feel a sense of relief. Emotions are often surprising in their strength or mildness, and they can also be confusing, such as when a person misses a painful relationship.Thoughts during grief can vary from “there’s nothing I can do about it” to “it’s my fault, I could have done more” or from “she had a good life” to “it wasn’t her time.” They can be troubling or soothing, and people in grief can bounce between different thoughts as they make sense of their loss. Grieving behaviors run from crying to laughter, and from sharing feelings to engaging silently in activities like cleaning, writing, or exercising. Some people find comfort in the company of others, particularly with those who may be similarly affected by the loss, and others may prefer to be alone with their feelings. While there are many
different models in which to wrap our heads around, I have used Kubler Ross’s DABDA below throughout my treatment with persons in grief. Understand, not all persons will experience these stages in a linear fashion, and sometimes may only experience 2 of these. Additionally, the stages may be experienced in a “roller coaster” fashion, rapidly going back and forth in each stage.

Complicated Grief

Everyone grieves differently, and no time limit can be placed on the process. The experience of grief is not something a person never recovers from completely, but time typically tempers its intensity. The term complicated grief refers to a persistent form of bereavement that dominates a person’s life, interfering with daily functioning for an extended period of time. When symptoms are without improvement, lasting for at least one year or more and interfering with one’s ability to return to routine activities, complicated grief may be implicated. Prolonged symptoms may include:
•Intense sadness
•Preoccupation with the deceased or with the circumstances surrounding the
•Longing or yearning
•Feelings of emptiness or meaninglessness
•Difficulty engaging in happy memories
•Avoidance of reminders of the deceased
•Lack of desire in pursuing personal interests or plans
•Bitterness or anger

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