“I suppose I’m one of the lucky ones. I had never experienced grief until I was in my twenties. Despite my family’s financial difficulties, I was never in any form of distress.
I remember the moment it occurred to me: when I was in my mid-twenties, I enrolled in the first term of a college course on death. Why is everyone so concerned? It didn’t matter; different thoughts occurred to me. Although the clouds dissipated as swiftly as they had arrived, I never forgot how they felt. It resided within me, and I would find myself lost in the fog of these ideas at night.
But it was the death of my eldest sister that transformed my life. I’m constantly thinking about her. I picture her lovely voice echoing around me, and I typically find her playing nearby. I can imagine the anguish she must have felt in her final days,” one of my colleagues told me about his experience with grief.
Although this is just anecdotal, I believe the majority of people who have suffered loss share these complex feelings. After being reasonably “normal” for the majority of your life, the terrible and unfamiliar environment of grieving might appear quite abnormal.
An abnormal reaction to an unexpected event is normal.Viktor Frankl
I’d be negligent if I didn’t accept that individuals have grieving dilemmas from time to time. The severity of their sorrow keeps rising. They don’t feel any better as the days pass, and they don’t know what more to do. Complicated grief, also known as persistent complex bereavement disorder, is the sadness that becomes painful and all-consuming.
Signs of Grief
- Deep feelings of loss or yearning for the deceased ones
- Feelings of extreme loneliness even in the presence of others
- Deep emotions of rage or hatred stemming from the death
- Thinking as if existence is worthless without the person you lost
- Caring for the deceased so profoundly that it prevents you from doing activities or maintaining connections with others
- Being surprised, disoriented, or emotionally empty
- Struggling to love or trust others
- Keeping away from the people, locations, or objects that remind you of your loss
If 3 or more of these signs last longer than 6 months, you may be experiencing complicated grief and should seek professional help.
What Complicated Grief Looks Like
You’re feeling terrible. Life seems impossible to handle. Each day, you are angry and upset or cry. It’s difficult to envision things getting any better eventually. Is this a simple or complex form of grief? Even for professionals, it might seem like a coin flip at times. So, how can you tell if you might need expert grief counseling?
My immediate impression was that we could all benefit from some treatment. There is no magic number that must be reached for counseling to be effective. So, if you’re considering bereavement counseling, why not try it? It’s a chance to focus on yourself, and discover new things about yourself.
Coping with Grief
Most of us deal with grief in one of two different ways. Either we surrender completely to our pain, or we may strive to escape the pain and feelings of grieving to prevent becoming engulfed.
Pain and sadness are only brief experiences, as mindfulness and impermanence tell us. Mindfulness is a style of living wherein we remain aware of the current moment – our emotional state, our physical sensations, and our surroundings. Though many people confuse this with meditation, meditation is simply a technique for learning and practicing mindfulness.
A visualization method named ‘leaves on a stream’ is something that can help. There are other versions, but this is method is very straightforward. Imagine a river on the outskirts of a forest. Observe, identify, and envision a leaf drifting down a river as an idea arises in your head. Return your attention to your breathing after watching the leaf drift downriver.
We need to change our concepts about grief as a journey with a conclusion. And we must abandon the notion that sadness is a negative emotion. Grief isn’t meant to be polished till it gleams with the brightness and hope of something new. Instead, we should pray for the strength to live with grief and accept it as a necessary part of the process.