Grief is Complex and Timeless




Grief is complex and timeless. When you experience the loss of a significant person in death circumstances, a grief reaction is expected when the circumstance first occurs. In North American culture, an intense grief reaction is socially acknowledged and accepted over a short period of time. A natural progression is for grief to become less intense and more contained over time. This aligns with social norms. If the grief does not get resolved though, it will fester and resurface possibly the next time there is a significant loss. It is beneficial to monitor with this awareness, assessing for unresolved past losses when following losses occur.


In assessing, it assists to also acknowledge and assess that a significant loss is not exclusive to death circumstances. In additional to death, grief is also experienced due to situational losses related to changes involving family illness, divorce, aging or other serious life altering situation - adding to the complexity. By acknowledging and assessing, this grief can get recognized and processed rather than overlooked and disenfranchised.


Further adding to the complexity, grief may also not surface when the situational loss first occurs. A delayed reaction may be experienced weeks, months or even years later. In Wikipedia, delayed grief is described as "reaction to a loss that is postponed until a later time, even years later and might be triggered by a seemingly unrelated event.....with reactions excessive to the current situation." So if you, a family member, or a client/patient present with seemingly unprovoked distressing emotions, it is worthwhile to consider an assessment of delayed grief to a past loss that has surfaced.


With these grief complexities, how is it possible to get closure? It assists to acknowledge that seeking closure is not as beneficial as seeking to resolve, work through the grief by facing the reality - even in dealing with a situational loss that occurred years ago.

"The only cure for grief is to grieve" ~ Earl A. Grollman, internationally recognized counselor and writer.


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Updated May 2020

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