Defining Complicated Grief and How to Cope with It

Posted by: Erin Ward in Grief Articles | July 6, 2021
Grieving the loss of a loved one comes in many different forms, as there are many different types of grief. One type of grief that’s often forgotten about is complicated grief. 
Keep reading to learn more about this grief type, how to find healthy ways to cope with it, and how to show your support.

Defining Complicated Grief

Grief isn’t something that completely goes away. However, when dealt with in a healthy way, you can learn how to cope with grief and move forward while keeping your loved one’s memory close.

Complicated grief is the opposite of this. Instead of becoming less intense, the grief symptoms are overwhelming enough that the griever can’t finish daily tasks. Instead of trying to understand their feelings and process their loss, they push their feelings deep inside and try to ignore them.

Oftentimes, this happens when someone isn’t allowing themselves the time that they need to process their loss and navigate their new normal. This also is more likely to happen in cases of sudden deaths or the death a close loved one. Or it may happen if they don’t have people who they trust to support them.

Coping with Complicated Grief

The first step is recognizing that your grieving habits aren’t healthy. Depending on how far your grief symptoms have escalated, you may be able to change course before it turns into complicated grief. Even if it has turned into it, it’s never too late to open yourself up to processing your loss.

One way to open up is to talk to a trusted family member or friend. If you’re not comfortable talking to anyone in your life, you can seek the help of a professional grief counselor. Even if you do talk to a loved one, it still may be a good idea to seek professional guidance. They’re trained to help you cope with grief and find the best grieving options for you.

How to Support Someone Coping with Complicated Grief

If your loved one is coping with complicated grief, let them know that you want to be their support system. Offer to non-judgmentally listen to them talk about their grief experience. If they want your advice, you can help them find ways to grieve and honor their loved one, such as through a personal tradition or memorial craft. The key is to find ways to support them without being too intrusive.

What other ways can you cope with complicated grief? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

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