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When Grief Gets Complicated, Therapy Is the Answer


Bereavement Relief

Posted On: Jan 30, 2017

When Grief Gets Complicated, Therapy Is the Answer

We discussed the emotional symptoms of complicated grief last week. Both complicated and extreme grief deserve more attention than they get because so many people are unaware that different levels of grieving exist. It's not uncommon for someone caught up in the painful throes of complicated or extreme grief to not even realize that something is wrong. At most, they just think that the loss with which they're dealing hit them harder than usual. These two types of grief linger, however, and their symptoms get worse over time. In some cases, the pain takes such a tenacious hold that therapy is the only answer left. Let's take a look at the most common and helpful treatments available to bereaved individuals suffering from complicated or extreme grief.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive therapy targets the symptoms of complicated and extreme grief that make it hard for the bereaved to grasp or accept the death of their loved one. These two types of grief affect your ability to resolve the loss. It seems like always focusing on good memories of the person you lost is helpful and healing, but that's not so. Doing this gives you pleasure, which feels nice but is potentially damaging. It because your thoughts are close-ended when you experience this type of grief. Everything is absolute: the end of your loved one's life instead of a change in your life; the death is intolerable, not something you can work through and get over; and the death itself is not a meaningful event, rather than one of the most meaningful experiences a person can have.

Exposure Therapy

Getting lost in grief closes you off to other people. Your thoughts circle your deceased loved one and sometimes yourself, but you primarily focus on the person you lost. Doing this significantly excludes the relatives, friends, and acquaintances who make up your day to day life. The more you deny the existence of anyone and anything but your memories, the deeper you sink into sadness. Exposure therapy, as the term suggests, exposes you to the rest of your life—the part that's living and thriving. It also helps you to get rid of an abundance of reminders of the deceased.

Meaning Therapy

With meaning therapy, you learn to make sense of the loss you just experienced. This type of treatment works to help you find closure by embracing the change that happened. It also helps you to find meaning in the death and, as a result, in yourself and the life that continues.

Therapy is not shameful. It does not mean you are weak. It merely means that you need help to get through something painful and devastating.