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The Emotional Reactions of Complicated Grief


Bereavement Relief

Posted On: Jan 27, 2017

The Emotional Reactions of Complicated Grief

It's impossible to overstate the fact that grief is a normal, natural reaction in response to losing someone you love. There are three different types of grief, however, as sometimes the emotion progresses to unhealthy levels. The feeling itself is natural, but everyone grieves in a unique way. Normal grief typically follows the five stages of grieving and fades into something softer over time. Complicated grief and depression are deeper, more pervasive types of pain. Complicated grief manifests in particular emotions. Are any of these familiar?

No Grief at All

People who experience complicated grief may not grieve at all. What that means is that your grief is somehow inhibited, or it's absent. It's common to mistake this feeling—or lack thereof—for indifference, but it's completely different. With inhibited grief, you can't release it or even feel it. In the case of absent pain, there's generally an underlying cause. Talking to a professional—a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or even a counselor—can help you discover the root of your absence of grief.

Aggressive or Hostile Behavior

Anger is almost always an aspect of grief, to greater or lesser degrees. In complicated grief, that anger reaches the next level. For reasons you can't even begin to understand, you're suddenly aggressive in instances where it's inappropriate. It's especially odd if you were never aggressive before, or if you rarely acted that way. Hostility is another common emotion. The strangest things spark it, but then it goes off with a vengeance. Memory can set it off, or something that directly triggers a memory.

Panic and Fear

After a loss, it's not unheard of to feel fearful of the outside world for a while. Complicated grief is more complicated. Out of nowhere, you might develop a phobia you never had before. You could start having panic attacks when you're triggered or stressed. Your fears are irrational, to the point where you don't understand them yourself.

Inability to Let Go

This is the most heartbreaking aspect of complicated grief. You can't let go. That sounds like a typical symptom of grief, but it's not. With complicated grief, it's not just that you have a hard time letting go. You physically yearn for what you had. You yearn for your loved one, for your relationship, for the fulfillment of the role they played in your life. It's worse than an inability to let go. You can't stop wishing for and dreaming of an impossibility.

You can get past complicated grief, but you have to talk about it. Tell someone how you feel as soon as you're able to recognize that it's different from normal grief.