It’s been 10 months since she died and I still cry every day. I feel broken, like I can’t do much without sadness wrecking me. I loved my fiancé so much. I’ve been trying, helping people where I can, but I still can’t stop the strong persistent grief. Getting lost in making music is the best thing I’ve found so far, but it’s not enough. According to one source, most people recover somewhat from grief within a year. I don’t really see how the next two months will get any better.
The experience of grief is not something a person ever recovers from completely, but time typically tempers its intensity. The term complicated grief refers to a persistent form of bereavement that dominates a person’s life, interfering with daily functioning for an extended period of time.
Symptoms of complicated grief are nearly identical to those of acute grief, and again, the length of time it takes for a person to grieve is highly variable and dependent on context. But when symptoms are interminable without improvement, lasting for at least one year or more and interfering with one’s ability to return to routine activities, complicated grief may be implicated. Prolonged symptoms may include:
Preoccupation with the deceased or with the circumstances surrounding the death
Longing or yearning
Feelings of emptiness or meaninglessness
Difficulty engaging in happy memories
Avoidance of reminders of the deceased
Lack of desire in pursuing personal interests or plans
Bitterness or anger
The DSM-5 includes diagnostic criteria for “persistent complex bereavement disorder” in the section of conditions requiring further study.
Therapy for Grief
When a person’s grief-related thoughts, behaviors, or feelings are extremely distressing, unrelenting, or incite concern, a qualified mental health professional may be able to help. Therapy is an effective way to learn to cope with the stressors associated with the loss and to manage symptoms with techniques such as relaxation or meditation.
Each experience of grief is unique, complex, and personal, and therapists will tailor treatment to meet the specific needs of each person. For example, a therapist might help the bereaved find different ways to maintain healthy connections with the deceased through memory, reflection, ritual, or dialogue about the deceased and with the deceased.
In addition to individual therapy, group therapy can be helpful for those who find solace in the reciprocal sharing of thoughts and feelings, and recovery results are often rapid in this setting. Similarly, family therapy may be suitable for a family whose members are struggling to adapt to the loss of a family member.
Other grief symptoms I’ve been having are detachment and/or isolation, difficulty pursuing interests or activities, persistent feelings of loneliness or emptiness, and impairment in social, occupational or other areas of life.
I’m clearly depressed. I won’t take meds, I won’t use drugs, but have to do something. The mind searches for anything to dull the pain. Songs trigger me and I’m sobbing again.
My life seems to get darker when I stop meditating and don’t exercise enough, so I’m getting back to doing that daily, starting tonight.
I set this intention: 15 min morning and night. Mindfulness. Feel the feelings. Let them pass though me. Feelings are temporary. They will flow with time. Away to the sea.
The radioactive Fukushima sea, once called the Pacific Ocean.
If you lost someone, leave a comment and tell me how you got through it.