Prolonged Grief

Prolonged grief, also known as complicated grief or persistent complex bereavement disorder, refers to an intense and prolonged form of grief that occurs following the death of a loved one. It is characterized by an inability to come to terms with the loss, experience of intense sorrow, and a significant impairment in daily functioning for an extended period of time.


Prolonged grief is marked by a variety of symptoms that may persist for months or even years:

  • Intense longing and yearning: The individual may incessantly yearn for the deceased, constantly thinking about them and feeling a deep sense of emptiness.
  • Preoccupation with the deceased: Thoughts and memories of the deceased dominate the person’s mind, affecting their ability to focus on other aspects of life.
  • Difficulty accepting the death: The bereaved may struggle to accept the reality of the loss, often feeling disbelief, confusion, or denial about the death.
  • Emotional pain and sadness: Prolonged grief often involves intense and overwhelming feelings of sadness, despair, and emotional pain that persist over time.
  • Difficulty engaging in regular activities: People experiencing prolonged grief may find it challenging to perform routine activities, such as work, socializing, or taking care of themselves.
  • Withdrawal from social interactions: The bereaved person may isolate themselves from friends and family, avoiding social situations and seeking solitude.
  • Feelings of guilt or regret: Prolonged grief is often accompanied by guilt or regret, leading individuals to blame themselves for the death or harbor feelings of unresolved conflicts.
  • Loss of purpose or meaning in life: Individuals may struggle to find meaning or purpose in their own lives following the loss, leading to a sense of emptiness or hopelessness.

Treatment and Support

Recognizing and seeking help for prolonged grief is crucial for individuals struggling with its debilitating effects. Treatment options for prolonged grief may include:

  • Grief counseling: Therapy sessions with a trained mental health professional can help individuals express their emotions, process the loss, and develop coping strategies.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can assist individuals in challenging negative or distressing thoughts related to their grief, and help them develop healthier ways of coping.
  • Support groups: Joining support groups with others who have experienced similar loss can provide a sense of connection, validation, and understanding.
  • Medication: In some cases, antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to manage severe symptoms of prolonged grief.
  • Self-care: Engaging in activities that promote physical and emotional well-being, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and maintaining a healthy routine, can contribute to the healing process.

It is important to reach out to healthcare professionals if prolonged grief persists and interferes significantly with daily life, as timely intervention is key in facilitating the healing process and promoting overall well-being.