Many factors can complicate grieving, and warrant professional help. Complications often make it difficult to come to equilibrium after a significant loss. It may be necessary to critically examine the characteristics and quality of the relationship with the deceased, the circumstances of his/her death, additional stressors, feeling or being "stuck", specific reactions you are having, and current circumstances in your life, which may be impeding your acceptance and adjustment to your loss and a diminishment of your pain and disruption.
The death of anyone significant to you is a serious enough event to warrant attention and support. Complications such as alcohol and drugs, conflicted relationships, multiple losses and stressors, risk of harm, and stigmatized and traumatic deaths warrant a special warning.
Complications or not, you can apply a simple minimum standard to help determine your need for professional help. This is the experience of being “stuck”. Often, metaphorical language is used to describe the experience of being stuck. Feeling like you have “hit a wall”, are stuck in “quick sand”, or cloaked under a “heavy blanket” express that grieving has stagnated.
You may have painful mental images, memories, and/or thoughts, which plague you. There may be an event, information, or questions about the person who died and/or his or her death, which are holding you in place. Sometimes fear and what feels like unbearable pain are associated with acknowledging and accepting some feeling or truth. Perhaps isolation, alienation, and lack of support has paused grieving and mourning. Being stuck can feel like depression or a deadening of feeling.
Complications and feeling “stuck” are signals to seek professional help with your mourning.
Read more about Complications on the following pages.