Each of us experiences grief through a range of emotions such as sadness, confusion and anger, and the grief process is unique for each person. But sometimes intense feelings of hopelessness and guilt do not go away, and are accompanied by physical symptoms like loss of appetite, sleeping problems and trouble concentrating on daily tasks.
When the emotions of grief persist for a prolonged period and affect all aspects of a person’s life, this is known as “complicated grief.” If untreated, complicated grief can lead to health conditions like depression, substance abuse, and heart disease. People who are at the highest risk for depression are those with a past history of the condition or those who lack a strong support system.
Whether it’s spending time with family and friends, joining a local grief recovery program, or seeking treatment from a professional, no one should experience grief alone. If you know someone who is grieving, let the person know you are there for them. Simply showing your support can make all the difference.
—Joanette Clipson, Oklahoma City
Clipson is a bereavement coordinator for Crossroads Hospice.