What’s Unhealthy Grief?

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How Do You Know When You Have Crossed Over To An Unhealthy Grief?

 

Though there are similarities, we all grieve a little bit differently, but sometimes we can move into an unhealthy grief without even realizing it.  And once we do, it can be more difficult to get back on track to grieving in a more natural and healing way.

 

There are 3 general categories that are defined as unhealthy grief.

  • Absent
  • Delayed
  • Exaggerated or prolonged

 

Being in either of these categories could be a red flag that you are not coping effectively with an illness, death or some type of loss.

 

Absent grieving is usually related to some type of denial.  It may be characterized by lack of empathy or any emotional response to a death.  It is repressing our feelings, basically pretending that the event or loss didn’t really happen.  We often feel this immediately after an event as it is a naturally part of our defense mechanism to pace the reality of the event so we can handle it.  When this is extended, however, it can become an  unhealthy approach.

 

Delayed grieving occurs when we are too busy or preoccupied to really process the loss we’ve had. Delayed grieving may become a natural extension of absent grieving or denying the feelings of a loss.

 

Prolonged grief occurs if we have been grieving for over a year and still get severely upset.  We are essentially stuck in the past event and are not moving forward with our life.  Of course, we will always have some sadness or miss the person we lost, but if the intensity of the event still keeps us from moving forward in life, then this can be an unhealthy grief reaction.

 

Exaggerated grief is recognized by someone having a distorted emotion such as anger or depression that is unresolved and continues to be a central theme in the grieving process.

 

Loss is commonly experienced in our lives with death being the most significant loss that affects us. There are numerous other losses we can experience throughout life, such as,  loss of employment, health, independence and freedom, and the list goes on.  It is a part of life, to be sure.  All loss may cause feelings of grief that affect us in different ways and differently at various times in our lives.

Unhealthy Grief Will Keep Us Longer In Grief

Experiencing grief is normal, but an unhealthy grief can impede us.  Grieving is not pleasant, but it is a natural emotional response to a loss.  It helps us heal as we move through it.  Working through grief though is one of the most unpleasant things in life we must do.  It affects us physically, emotionally, behaviorally, socially and spiritually.  If you recognize yourself or someone you love being in an unhealthy grief process, seeking help to get the grief process moving can help you get back on track to a smoother healing.


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