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Facing Complicated Grief

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Robert Stanislaw

Project part 2 "Facing Complicated Grief"

The problem that I am suffering from is long term grief medically known as "complicated grief." This problem was brought on by the sudden death of my close uncle in-law Lance. Lance died at the early age of 37. I met Lance about several years ago when I started to date my wife Heather. Lance had a very caustic and stressful relationship with his wife Shelley, and they were in the midst of a divorce last year when he passed away. Lance went for a walk one day in order to avoid an argument with his wife Shelly, and due to the high heat index, and not knowing he had a weak heart, Lance had a heart attack and died. It was ruled by the medical examiner as "Cardiac arrest due to heat exhaustion." The initial shock of losing Lance so sudden and just five days before my birthday has left a longstanding grief within me. Lance's death was not like anyone else whom I've had to deal with when they die. We were very close, he was approximately my age, my weight, and most of all he was a father of three children whom I am very close to. Subsequently my mother and father in law buried Lance on october 10th, it was their 21st wedding anniversary. "Complicated grief" is the term used for prolonged periods of grief. This is usually used to describe someone who has hit a "sticking" point in the grief process. Normal stages of grief progress through stages slowly making progress while recovering from the death of another individual. Whereas individuals suffering from complicated grief cannot progress through the recovery process, they become stuck in these periods of longstanding mourning. Individuals suffering from complicated grief usually are overwhelmed with their emotions brought on by grief and trying to accept the death of a loved one. The most notable sign of complicated grief as opposed to normal grief is the prolonged duration of grief that becomes evident.

The origin of complicated grief is brought about when a person experiences the death of a loved one in which they had a very close and strong bond. In my case, I really loved Lance, I thought he was very funny, respectable, a great father to his children, and we had a lot of things in common, like football, and racecars. Analyzing my complicated grief over Lance's death is brought on by the unresolved problems of his life. He has left behind three children, two very young, and one teenager. I suppose the hardest thing for me to deal with Lance's passing is who is going to help raise and be the father figure in their lives? Who is going to make sure they go to college? And will his widow Shelly remarry, and if she does will the guy she meets be a good father like Lance? I truly feel there will never be total reconciliation within all the previous issues I stated because Lance is gone. He can and will never be replaced.

I think I needed medical assistance in treating my complicated grief because of certain behavior patterns that are consistent within myself which have occurred longer than six months, things such as, not sleeping as well as I used to. There were times when I was the hardest person in the world to awaken, however; I find myself being a more sensitive sleeper, I often dream of Lance, I can see his smile and still hear his voice in my dreams, as if we were sitting around watching the Lion's lose, yet another game. I think my biggest problem as a result of my complicated grief, is that I talk about his death all the time. Sometimes I feel compelled to tell people about how good he was, and how much we miss him. Unfortunatley he seems to come up in almost every serious conversation I have, especially with people who knew him. I sometimes feel the urge to talk about him based on the small things that remind me of him, like watching the Lion's lose, or the Woodward Dream Cruise, or making a big breakfast which was his favorite thing to do for the kids, or seeing his pictures that we have all through our home. Due to these things I often find my mind wandering in class or just not paying attention to other people because I think of how much I miss him, and what's to become of such an incomplete life that he has left. My grades have slipped, I find lecture material harder to concentrate on, based on me being tired, and my mental and emotional distractions over losing him. I find myself spending more and more time at his graveside, thinking of what was yet to become, and what was. Sometimes I feel that it's wrong to move on without him, it's as if we are forgetting about him, or even downplaying the fact that he's dead, and the existing turmoil isn't evident to anyone else but myself.

Some of the treatments that exist for dealing with complicated grief usually begin in the form of some type of intervention. Intervention can usually be found within one's family, or a doctor, or a teacher, or a concerned friend. Sometimes either family member, such as my wife in my case, are needed to point an individual in the right direction. Either towards therapy, counseling, or some other form of professional treatment for complicated grief. Grief counseling is the most common form of treatment when dealing with individuals who suffer from complicated grief. Grief counseling often helps mourners dealing with issues of complicated grief to move through the phases of grief in healthy paced fashion. Grief counseling is most times offered by professionals trained in dealing with grief such as psychiatrists, psychologist, therapists, or by other people who are part of self help groups, and may even be found online where mourners help other mourners deal with their issues of grief. Often times these types of services are offered in individual or even group settings.

Some of the goals of grief counseling include

1. helping the bereaved accept the loss of a loved one by encouraging and helping them to talk about the loss.

2. helping the bereaved to live without the person who died, and to learn to make decisions on their own.

3. helping the bereaved to identify and express their feelings related to their loss.

4. helping the bereaved to separate emotionally from the person who died and start a new beginning.

Other types of treatment include complicated grief therapy with uses a combination of interpersonal depression treatment and PTSD treatment. Complicated grief therapy (CGT) seems to have the best success ratio of most other programs available to people who suffer from complicated grief. CGT is a fairly new treatment that boasts



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