Symptoms and Behaviours of Unresolved Grief
Lindemann (1944), Lazare (1979) and Worden (2005) have identified numerous symptoms and behaviours that indicate unresolved / complicated grief. While many of the symptoms identified can be considered ordinary during the more acute earlier phase of grief, they are considered major signs of unresolved / complicated grief if they remain for unusually prolonged periods of time. Also, the more symptoms an individual exhibits, the more likely they are experiencing unresolved grief (Worden, 2005; Freeman, 2005). Some of the symptoms are listed below:
- Over activity without a sense of purpose
- Acquisition of symptoms belonging to the last illness of the deceased
- Alteration in relationships with friends and relatives
- Lasting loss of patterns of social interaction
- Agitated depression with tension, insomnia, feelings of worthlessness, self accusation, obvious need for punishment and even suicidal tendencies
- Furious hostility towards someone connected to the death.
- Unwillingness to move the possessions of the deceased even after a reasonable amount of time has passed.
- A depressive syndrome to varying degrees of severity
- Symptoms of guilt and self reproach, panic attacks and somatic symptoms
- Somatic symptoms representing identification with the deceased, often symptoms of the terminal illness
- A feeling that the death has occurred yesterday even though the loss took place a long while back
- Inability to discuss the deceased without crying
- Changes in current relationships following death
- A history of delayed or prolonged grief
- Inability to speak of the deceased without experiencing intense grief emotions
- Unaccountable sadness during various times of the year
- Self destructive themes
- Radical changes in lifestyle
- Phobias about illness or death
- Over identification with the deceased leading to compulsion to imitate the dead person
- A relatively minor event triggering a major grief reaction.
- Exclusion of friends, family members or activities associated with the deceased.
- Freeman, S (2005). Grief and Loss: Understanding the Journey. Belmont, CA: Thompson Brooks/ Cole.
- Williamson. J.B. & Shneidman, E. (1995). Death: Current Perspectives. (4th ed.). California: Mayfield Publishing Company
- Worden, J.W. (2005). Grief Couselling and Grief Therapy: Handbook for Mental Practitioners (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
A well written article-after struggling with a relative who was plagued with complicated grief, due to many factors, its good to be able to find resources to help understand the dynamics involved.
Well, hello there,
My brother died when I was 13 yrs old, I am 31 now and I feel ashamed to admit, but hell, I miss him so, so much. You indeed learn to live with this sort of pain, but it simply doesnt go away. It sticks with you. I’m freakin sobbin while stating this, it has been so much time and at many points during the year the memories come up to me and they still depress me like when I was 13. It was the biggest pain I’ve ever felt. I never got to say goodbye to my brother, maybe that was the problem. He had aids, was a drug addict, but he never stole or did any harm to us. He was a good human being. I just miss him so much. :(