When Grief Becomes Complicated: What Happens?


“Complicated grief” refers to grief, which doesn’t follow the usual or expected grief pattern due to complicating factors.  When grief is complicated, the grieving individual may not heal in a healthy manner without outside assistance or intervention.  The following signs may indicate that the grieving individual needs professional intervention:

Children and Adolescents

  • Chronic or severe somatic symptoms (headaches, stomach aches, etc.)
  • Pronounced self-blame
  • Chronic school problems
  • Nightmares/sleep disturbances
  • Extreme regression (return to bedwetting, clinging, thumb-sucking, etc.)
  • Poor self-care
  • Excessive hopelessness
  • Extreme anger/hostility/violence or other extreme acting out/defiance
  • Social isolation/extreme withdrawal
  • Sudden change in friends/peer group
  • Intense separation anxieties or phobias
  • Apparent absence of grief or unwillingness to discuss the loss
  • Skipping school
  • Intense involvement in dating relationship to the exclusion of other friends or activities
  • Extreme negativity/gloom
  • Intense attraction to the topic of death, or fixation on the subject of death
  • Illegal activity/violating the rights of others
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts…

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About Sue Rosenbloom, M.A., C.T.

Thanatologist: Loss and Grief Coach - My blog is for educational purposes only. I am not a licensed professional counselor - Bachelor of Arts in Human Studies - Marylhurst University (2007)- Certificate in Thanatology - Hood College (2008) Master of Arts in Thanatology - Hood College (2009) Certificate in Thanatology - The-Association for Death Education and Counseling (The highest level of loss and grief education). * Hospice, Alzheimers and Senior's Advocate * Former first responder for Trauma Intervention Program, Inc. (TIP) * Hospice and Bereavement Volunteer for Providence Hospice Bereavement Program * Association for Death Education and Counseling Member * National Alliance for Bereavement of Children * Hood College Thanatology Association * American Group Psychotherapy Association * Marylhurst Gerontolgy Association * Oregon Gerontology Association * Hospice, Loss, Grief and Bereavement Researcher * Creative Writer
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