Psychologists recognize both simple and complicated grief. It’s normal for all bereaved individuals to experience very strong emotions that may sometimes conflict with each other. During the funeral planning process, they may feel numb. Later, anger, sadness, and depression may develop. Simple and complicated grief can both begin this way. However, while simple grief tends to diminish with time, complicated grief grows worse over months and years. Simple grief isn’t a mental health disorder, although grief counseling can help. In contrast, complicated grief is considered a mental health issue that can be debilitating.
The depressive symptoms that begin after the loss typically won’t improve without treatment in a person with complicated grief. Mourners can be intensely sad and bitter. They aren’t able to enjoy life. They might not participate in the activities they once loved, and they may not be capable of performing basic self-care tasks for themselves. If the bereaved individual worked, he or she will likely suffer a loss in productivity and performance, and job loss may result. It’s not unusual for the bereaved individual to feel as though life no longer has any meaning, and that there’s simply no point in doing anything. Suicide ideation is a possibility, and it requires emergency care at a hospital.
Obsessive thoughts about the deceased and the way life used to be can afflict the complicated mourner. He or she may be unable to relocate or discard any of their loved one’s belongings. The intense longing may lead the mourner to obsessively daydream about life before the loss.
Mental health can significantly affect physical health. Complicated grief goes hand-in-hand with chronic stress. Mourners may unintentionally gain or lose weight, lose muscle tone due to lack of exercise, and suffer from malnutrition. They might not sleep enough or sleep too much, and they are more susceptible to illnesses.
Grief support services are available in Lakewood, Washington, from Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park & Crematory. Our online grief counseling is available 24/7, and we also invite bereaved families to attend our support groups. Call our funeral home at (253) 584-0252 to inquire about current group meetings.