Humanity Psychological Services

Healing is ALWAYS possible


Substance Use Grief Trauma

Immediate Grief Loss

Grief is an often complicated, long-term result of significant loss. It is the suffering we feel when someone or something we love is gone, and it can feel all-encompassing. The pain associated with losing a loved one is familiar to most people, but people grieve different losses, such as loss of a job, poor health, or a breakup. The source of the pain is irrelevant; even events that seem minor to some might trigger a necessary grieving process in others.

Although most of us think of the emotions associated with bereavement when we think about grief, it can impact a person's physical, mental, behavioral, and social world too. The grieving process can happen as soon as a person experiences loss (immediate grief), which is usually a healthy, natural response. It can also occur long after the loss or traumatic event has occurred (delayed grief). While delaying grief is sometimes necessary, if left for too long, it can negatively impact a person's entire life.

Psychologist George A. Bonanno is an expert in grieving and trauma. He came up with his Four Trajectories of Grief (described below), which is a widely-accepted model in grief counseling. It highlights the natural capacity for resilience found in everyone. 

Bonanno's Four Trajectories (adapted for clarity):

  1. Resilience: an emotionally healthy adult's ability to maintain relatively stable, healthy levels of mental and physical functioning and the capacity for generative experiences and positive emotions in the face of a disruptive/traumatic event.
  2. Recovery: normal functioning is interrupted while a person grieves. They eventually return to normalcy after a time.
  3. Chronic Dysfunction: prolonged suffering and inability to function, usually lasting several years or longer.
  4. Delayed Grief or Trauma: symptoms of distress surface months or years after the event.

Delayed Grief

“Grief is very patient and will wait for you until every part of it has been fully realized.”

When a person postpones the grieving process, a seemingly unrelated event could trigger it years or even decades later. Delayed grief can negatively affect relationships, health, and happiness.

Delayed grief can mimic immediate grief:

  • Pangs of intense yearning
  • Sudden feelings of distress
  • Short bouts of hysterical laughter
  • Tears or uncontrolled sobbing
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Restlessness, insomnia
  • Preoccupation with the loss
  • Extreme inexplicable anger
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation (in more extreme cases)

Delayed grief usually includes the symptoms of immediate grief and may include:

  • Refusing to talk about your loss
  • Avoiding thinking about your loved one because the memories are too painful
  • Avoiding places or events that remind you of the loss
  • Keeping the exact same routines from before the loss because you are afraid you will forget
  • Talking only about the negative qualities of the person as if they never did anything good
  • Avoiding getting close to people and showing a fear of new relationships
  • Irritable/anger
  • Hypersensitivity and hyperawareness
  • Behavioral overreaction - withdrawing from people to avoid potential pain and loss
  • Addictive/self-harming behaviors
  • Apathy/numbness/depression

Treatment

When a person postpones the grieving process, a seemingly unrelated event could trigger it years or even decades later. Delayed grief can negatively affect relationships, health, and happiness.

Natalie's approach with grieving clients is gentle and non-judgemental. She acknowledges loss without labeling it and honors it without attaching a time-frame to the process. By speaking with a professional, you will find comfort in knowing that what you are feeling is normal (sadness, anger, guilt, loneliness, to name a few). You can learn healthy ways of coping with your grief, realize your strength and resilience, and find joy in life again.

© 2020 Humanity Psychological Services | Website Powered by Pathways Web Design