Unresolved grief solutions do exist. After a loved one’s death, some people mired in grief have an intense yearning and suffer a tremendous sadness. However, a specially designed therapy may be of great help to people who experience acute or complicated grief.
Unresolved Grief Solutions
Unresolved grief or complicated grief is often mistaken for depression. According to researchers, the debilitating condition known as complicated grief, an unresolved grief, is an altogether different problem.
Complicated or unresolved grief and depression involve intense sadness. However, depression is a state of mind where one has the inability to have positive feelings.
In many cases, people suffering with complicated grief have a deep longing for the deceased that could last for a very long time.
According to Dr. M. Katherine Shear, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University School of Social Work and director of the Center for Complicated Grief in New York City, “They have difficulty comprehending the reality of the death. They are caught up in thinking about the person who died, sometimes daydreaming about them.”
Dr. Shear also said sufferers blame themselves for the loved one’s death and avoid going places and doing things they shared. According to Dr. Shear, these feelings get in the way and interrupt the natural healing process.
Solutions for Complicated Grief
People suffering with unresolved grief can find solutions to their turmoil. September 24, Dr. Shear published her study in JAMA Psychiatry, The Journal of the American Medical Association, explaining how people suffering with complicated grief can benefit from specially designed treatments.
She explains, “Grief is the form love takes after someone dies. It has a lot of positive emotions.”
Treatments for people with complicated grief entail a series of steps.
First, a patient visualizes the death of his or her loved one and then a tape recording is made of the patient telling a story of what happened. The patient then goes home and listens to the recording.
Dr. Shear says, “That’s a very emotionally activating exercise. Reliving the death “jump-starts the process of coming to terms with the death.”
Additionally, Dr. Shear clarifies that patients are asked to identify things the patient avoids for fear they will be reminded of their loss and then have the patient start doing those things.
Dr. Shear explains, “The goal of the therapy is to get grief back on track. We are not trying to achieve a remission of grief. We are trying to free grief to find its rightful place in our lives.”
Spokeswoman for the American Counseling Association, Cheryl Edwards said relieving complicated or unresolved grief could be accomplished by other strategies, as well.
A person suffering from complicated grief fears they will forget his or her loved one.
Cheryl Edwards says, “They start to forget their smell or the sound of their voice, and that creates more depression and anxiety.”
She explains that it is important that people need to collect items associated with their loved one and record memories; however, it is not necessary to create a shrine.
Edwards makes clear that people suffering with complicated or unresolved grief need to refocus their energy. She said, “We have to help them find a reason, a purpose, and a new direction that they can take.”
Director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, Simon Rego clarifies that complicated grief is not officially recognized as a psychological disorder. He explains, “Some controversy still exists about exactly how and when it should be diagnosed.”
Nevertheless, Rego contends, “Mental health providers, especially those working with elderly patients who are widowed or bereaving another close relationship, would be wise to assess for complicated grief and either treat it or refer patients to a colleague who does this work.”
This recent study on complicated and unresolved grief finds that standard depression treatment after the loss of a loved one is less effective. The interpersonal psychotherapy worked best for those suffering with complicated grief, whereas the typical depression treatment had less favorable results.
If you think you or someone you know is suffering from complicated grief, the Center for Complicated Grief may be able to help. They maintain a database of complicated grief therapists and other grief therapists they can recommend.
They also maintain a list of treatment studies that are currently enrolling participants.