Why and when to seek help

Sometimes grief has complications.

You will find here a questionnaire which can help you detect possible complications. If you answer yes to several of the following questions and symptoms persist for more than two years after the death, do not hesitate to resort to professional help.

  1. Do you have strong reactions when speaking of the deceased ?
  2. Do you feel an absence of reaction, an indifference and a persistent
    emotional numbness ?
  3. Do you experience intense mourning reactions to a minor event, loss or separation ?
  4. Are you hyperactive in order to avoid suppressed ideas or feelings ?
  5. Are you incapable of parting with the deceased’s possessions ?
  6. Do you tend to excessively idealize the departed ?
  7. Do you have similar symptoms to the deceased ?
  8. Are you obsessed with the departed ?
  9. Do you have extreme fears related to the cause of death (illness, car, particular route) or to places associated with the death (hospital, funeral home, etc.) ?
  10. Have you observed the appearance of physical problems ?
  11. Do you feel very anxious at the thought of your own death or the death of others ?
  12. Do you constantly feel depressed, angry or euphoric ?
  13. Are you incapable of feeling emotional states related to grieving ?
  14. Are you incapable of speaking of the deceased and emotions related to the loss ?
  15. Do you tend to keep yourself in extreme isolation while fearing intimacy with others ?
  16. Do you have persistent suicidal thoughts ?
  17. Do you use drugs or have various dependencies ?
  18. Do you have persistent sleep disorders ?
  19. Have you become overly sensitive to any experiences of loss or separation ?
Translated from « La psychologie de la mort et du deuil », Josée Jacques, 1998

Besides grief related to mental health disorders, there are four forms of complex grief:

Absent grief : There are no signs of grief in the bereaved person following a major bereavement , as if the death has not occurred. When grief is denied it shows up somewhere else; physical problems, depression, erratic or angry behaviour. The absence of feeling may last for years;

Delayed grief : The symptoms of grief appear long after the death of the loved one. Although some grieving is done at the time, it is not sufficient for the loss and grief surfaces later. Often mourning has been postponed due to the overwhelming demands of the moment. But grief can not be put off indefinitely. Sooner or later, some unrelated loss will trigger the grief that has been repressed. When it is finally let loose, suppressed grief is often more intense than if it had been expressed when the loss occurred;

Distorted grief : Emotions of sadness and sorrow are avoided and replaced with other emotions such as great anger or guilt. These extreme emotions divert the attention of the bereaved and allow them to avoid feeling their grief;

Chronic grief : Prolonged mourning that never seems to end. Even if the bereaved are conscious that their grief is prolonged unduly, they are incapable of ending it without intense feelings of guilt.