You’ve recently experienced some type of loss.

Whether the loss was a person, a place, or a thing, any type of loss can be difficult to navigate.

Life changes are hard. You know grief is part of the process. It’s expected. It’s part of the healing process.

You expected the grieving process to be temporary. You were told that things would get better with time. Months have passed, and you can’t seem to shake these feelings. Getting back to your normal life has become increasingly difficult.

Here’s how you know if you’re going through complicated grief.

What is Normal Grief?

Grief is something that everyone experiences when going through any type of loss. These are a few of the common losses that can trigger grief:

  • Change in finances
  • Divorce
  • Losing a job
  • Medical problems
  • Moving
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Near-death experience

The grieving process can be unique for each person, but typically, most people experience some of the same signs and symptoms. These are some of the common signs and symptoms when it comes to normal grief:

  • Anger
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Guilt
  • Lack of energy
  • Loneliness
  • Sadness
  • Self-isolating or withdrawing from social interactions
  • Sleeping problems

When it comes to normal grief, there isn’t a set timeframe for when things will return to normal again. Over time, most individuals will learn how to cope and return to their new normal within a few weeks or months.

What is Complicated Grief?

With complicated grief, the feelings associated with the loss don’t fade over time. Complicated grief can prevent a person from returning to their normal life.

Many of the symptoms associated with complicated grief are similar to normal grief. Some of the other symptoms of complicated grief include the following:

  • Avoidance
  • Difficulty accepting the loss
  • Focus solely on the loss
  • Hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Negligent or reckless behavior
  • Persistent feelings of anger, irritation, or rage
  • Substance abuse
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

How to Know What Type of Grief You’re Experiencing

There isn’t a set timeframe for when normal grief becomes complicated grief. A general timeframe is if the grief continues for longer than six months after the loss has occurred, it’s probably a good indicator that it has turned into complicated grief. That being said, some people can experience feelings of grief for up to a year after a major loss. There are certain dates or events like birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries that act as a constant reminder of the loss that occurred.

Complicated grief can make you feel like you’re stuck living with your grief. The signs and symptoms that you’ve experienced throughout the grieving process may feel like they stayed the same or have gotten worse over time.

There are stages or phases that someone experiences when they go through a loss. Accepting the loss is usually the first step. The next step is allowing yourself to feel and experience the loss. The final step is to adjust to the new normal of the loss no longer being part of your life. If you find yourself unable to move forward, you may have complicated grief.

Next Steps

There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to experience grief. It’s part of the normal human response as a way to process any type of loss.

You’re not alone despite how you may be feeling. You don’t have to try to figure it all out on your own. Help is available to you no matter what situation you’re in. Reaching out for additional support can help you cope with what you’re going through whether you’re experiencing normal or complicated grief. Contact us soon so we can help you through this new chapter of your life with grief counseling.