This week our nation observed Veterans Day. While Veterans Day is a day to honor all who have served in the military for our country, it is not to be confused with Memorial Day which is a day to honor all who died in service to our country. Both days cause us to reach out to family members and friends with fondness and appreciation, or we take time to lovingly recall our loved ones who have passed away. As one moves through these holidays, it is probably not uncommon for some to once again experience a tinge of grief or sadness as they remember their loved ones. After all, grief is a natural part of human existence.

What happens when grief becomes complicated?

Perhaps you have experienced the loss of a loved one. It could be the passing of a grandparent, parent, sibling, a spouse, or even a child. If you have had this experience you may have noticed that other family members and friends will console you and assure you that eventually you will feel better in a period of time. But what happens when an “appropriate” amount of time passes and you really don’t feel better?  You could be suffering from complicated grief. Here are some recognizable symptoms of complicated grief:

  • Inability to accept the death of a loved one
  • Anger or bitterness at the loss of the deceased
  • Feelings of guilt or blame surrounding the death
  • Difficulty in “moving on”
  • Detachment from others
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Pervasive feelings of depression
  • Difficulty carrying out normal activities

How some journey through grief…

Depending on where one lives and the existence of readily available resources, the grief-stricken might decide to attend grief counseling sessions, either individual counseling sessions or group counseling sessions. Retreats are another avenue to investigate when trying to deal with unresolved grief. Some will try to fill the void by expressing themselves through writing, painting, acting, or volunteering. 

Here are two interesting articles about how some individuals have worked on moving through their own grief:

  • “Cal State San Marcos psychology professor Colleen Moss was devastated by the sudden death of her husband four years ago, but she found release by channeling her grief into a series of paintings on exhibit this month at the Escondido Municipal Gallery.” Learn more here
  • “Theatre as therapy…Sometimes a production can give you exactly what you need – whether it’s to mourn a loved one or help make important decisions.” Learn more here…and here.

What if you are grieving the suicide of a loved one?

This Saturday, November 17, 2012, is the 14th Annual Day of Healing for Bereavement After Suicide. Every year, survivors of suicide loss gather together in locations around the world to feel a sense of community, to promote healing, and to connect with others like them. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention participates in this annual day. And their website offers a list of participating cities which are offering events open to the public.

Most importantly, recovery from complicated grief is possible. Maybe you know someone who is suffering from complicated grief…take a few minutes and share today’s post with them.

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