What is Prolonged Grief?

When a loved one passes away, it is normal to feel sadness and grief. Soon after a loss many people experience intense and persistent yearning or longing for the person who died, as well as other negative emotions such as fear, sadness, guilt or anger. Many people also feel a loss of their sense of meaning or purpose in life and a sense that ‘moving on’ would be difficult.

When these symptoms continue to be very intense more than 12 months after a loss, and when they interrupt daily activities or routines this might be a sign that the individual is experiencing ‘prolonged grief’.

People with prolonged grief are basically stuck in a state of chronic grieving. They may still feel shocked or dazed by their loss, have difficulty accepting it and find themselves getting stuck thinking about the meaning of the loss, its causes, or consequences. Some people may find themselves regularly drawn to reminders or their loved one, in a way that interferes with other aspects of their life, while others may find themselves avoiding memories or activities that remind them of their loss.

We now have a lot of evidence which suggests that prolonged grief is a distinct mental health condition that should not be classified as another form of depression or anxiety. There is also evidence that people experiencing prolonged grief are at risk for considerable health impairments. For these reasons, specialist treatment is recommended for sufferers of prolonged grief.

New and effective treatments for prolonged grief are currently being developed around the world. More information about our treatment for prolonged grief can be found here.