Grief is that powerful emotion we experience, frequently after the loss of a loved one. Grief, however, can also be experienced after a number of traumatic incidents like an auto accident, illness, loss of a job, or divorce. Grief can be challenging in that we each seem to experience it differently and it seems impossible to control.
Most of us have been in circumstances where we have heard someone say, “Don’t worry, that’s normal when someone is grieving.” We also may have heard someone say, “It’s not normal to be that upset.” So what is “normal” grief, when should we be concerned, and when should we let it run its course?
Normal grief will take us through the emotional process of accepting a loss. For some, it may take weeks, for others, months. While we may each experience our individual grief differently, there are similarities and commonalities to what is considered normal grief. These may include:
- Crying, occasional sobbing
- Problems falling asleep or getting quality sleep
- Lack of appetite and weight loss
- Overeating and weight gain
- Lack of energy and lethargy
- Difficulty concentrating even on important tasks
- Questioning long-held spiritual beliefs
- Uncharacteristic bursts or feelings of anger
While normal grief can be difficult to experience or watch someone experience, it will fade over time. Slowly, over time, the intensity of the grief will lessen and life can return to its new normal. With complicated grief, a person can get stuck in their grief. This is sometimes referred to as chronic, atypical, or pathological grief.
Complicated grief prevents a person from progressing through grief as the negative feelings refuse to fade. It can stop a person from returning to normal activities. Chronic grief often has many of the characteristics of normal grief but at a higher intensity. The symptoms will last longer and may be accompanied by other symptoms like frequent bursts of anger or rage, avoidance of anything to do with the loss, an inability to function at work, deep depression, and withdrawal from family and friends.
If these intense feelings of debilitating grief continue past six months, it is likely the person is experiencing complicated or chronic grief. If you or someone you care about seems to be trapped in complicated grief, it can be very beneficial to see a mental health professional.
At Fares J. Radel Funeral Homes and Crematory, we understand that in today’s modern world, many families don’t have a professional “home” for final services. We would be honored to serve your family. Whether pre-planning or in current need, we are here to assist you.