Complicated grief

You may be experiencing complicated grief or prolonged grief disorder if you are struggling to cope with your grief

Most people eventually adapt to loss and slowly start to return to their former selves. They may still experience sadness, anger and guilt but these feelings are usually triggered by anniversaries and specific memories.

You may be experiencing complicated grief or prolonged grief disorder if you find that months or years pass and your feelings of grief are as sharp and raw as ever.

Complicated grief is more likely to happen if your loved one’s death has been sudden or traumatic or is complicated by other issues, such as

  • You are living with mental ill health
  • You had a complicated relationship with the person who died
  • You’ve been unable to properly say goodbye to the person because they are missing or there was no funeral
  • You are angry at the person who died, perhaps because of your history with them or because you feel they’ve left you
  • The person who died was a child
  • The person died by suicide
  • You feel guilty because a part of you is relieved that the person has died, perhaps because they were suffering

Prolonged grief disorder or complicated grief

You may be experiencing complicated grief if more than six months have passed since your loss and

  • You still feel numb or drained by your feelings in relation to your loss
  • You have been unable to resume your normal life after your loss and struggle to look after yourself properly or return to work
  • You struggle to sleep because you are consumed by difficult feelings about your loss and you cannot switch these off
  • You are unable to experience any joy in your life and find you’re avoiding doing things that you’d previously enjoyed

Speak to your GP if you think you may have prolonged grief disorder or complicated grief.