Signs of complicated grief

Updated April 17, 2017

People grieve the loss of a family member, friend, pet or possessions. Regardless of who or what, the signs of grief are the same. Each individual grieves differently, but complications can occurs when the individual does not get over grief. Serious mental and physical illness can be the result of complicated and prolonged grief. While there is no exact timeline for the grieving period, a person who is going through this process should be monitored and seek professional help if necessary.

Shock and Depression

Sudden loss may put the body into shock. You will feel numb and disoriented. Some individuals go into denial, pretend the loss did not happen or may want to see proof that the loss did in fact occur. Nausea, vomiting, shaking, chills and fainting are all symptoms of shock. After the initial shock of the event, it is common for depression to begin. Excessive fatigue, laziness, isolation, loss of appetite and sadness are signs of depression. Depression is a normal feeling during the grieving process, but in the extreme, the individual might experience suicidal thoughts or the inability to move on and function. This is complicated grief because the individual is stuck in the beginning stage of grief.

Emotional Upset and Mood Swings

People cry during the grief process. Crying might be the only way the person knows how to express grief and release those sad emotions. Grieving people may have mood swings and unstable emotions. Emotions that come to the surface when grieving are anger, anxiety, fear, guilt, insecurity, resentment and frustration. Mood swings that occur often and never go away could be the result of a more serious mental illness and a physician should be consulted.

Physical Symptoms and Illness

Stomachaches, vomiting, headaches and backaches are a few ways in which grief can physically affect the body. Tightness in the throat and chest, escalated blood pressure, sweating and laboured breathing are complications that are cause for concern when the body is dealing with grief. Loss creates stress and stress lowers the immune system. The likelihood for illness is greater during grief. Stress can depress the immune system and increase the likelihood of disease and accidents.

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About the Author

Alisa Herrscher has been writing budget proposals for a San Diego-based nonprofit organization since 2003. She has been writing for various websites since 2010. Herrscher holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from San Diego State University.