When to Treat Grief and Bereavement
How to Deal with Complicated Grief
There is no "right" way to grieve. However, there is a point where the habits of the griever become excessive and unhealthy. When this happens, a person may have complicated grief disorder. This disorder is difficult to diagnose, as it is hard to determine what is "normal" and what is not. If you think you have complicated grief, it is best to talk to your general practitioner, counselor, or other professional, to be evaluated. Below are some ways on how to cope with complicated, not typical, grief.
Exercise on a regular basis.Exercise helps to produce endorphins, your brain's "happy chemicals," and will fight negative feelings or depression that may come with complicated grief.
Attend a support group for those with complicated grief.This can help you to know you are not alone in what you are feeling.
Find a therapist.This is very important when you have CGD. Talking to a therapist does not mean you are weak and crazy, however, it can help you work through how you are feeling and address any core issues that are worsening how you feel.
Ask your therapist to use cognitive behavioral therapy, meaning therapy, or exposure therapy.
Work on not avoiding reminders of the loss that bring anxiety and distress.This is why exposure therapy will help, because it will help you very slowly face your fears.
Seek help immediately if you are suicidal.Sometimes people with CGD feel that life is not worth living anymore. If you feel this way or have suicidal thoughts, talk to a trusted friend, family member, mentor, pastor, or other responsible, trustworthy adult. You could also ask for help from an organization, such as the crisis textline (text to 741-741) or a suicide hotline.. If it's an emergency, call the Emergency Services.
Find ways of remembering your loved one while still living in the present.It is okay to remember your loved one; you don't have to forget your loved one to "move on." However, if you are preoccupied continually with thoughts of your loved one, it can be unhealthy. It is important to find ways to remember them, such as making a scrapbook, planting a tree in their honor, or visiting their graveside, while still finding ways to live in the moment.
- You may want to find new ways to socialize, get involved with community service, keep a journal of the (even small) good things that have happened, etc. You may want to have a professional assist you in doing these things.
- Surround yourself with loving people you can depend on. It is important not to isolate yourself in your grief.
- Be patient with yourself; healing takes time
- You are not any less of a person for having complicated grief; it just means you've been through a lot
- Depression, Post traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety often either co-exist or are misdiagnosed as CGD. if you have any doubts or concerns about your diagnosis, talk to your therapist or doctor.
Video: Complicated Grief: Q & A with Dr. M. Katherine Shear
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