It is a deeply human emotion that everyone must confront eventually, that is, losing a loved one. Adjusting to a world without someone who you cared for naturally engenders an array of painful feelings and emotions. These responses are part of the natural reaction known as grief.
Grief is so much more than just an emotional reaction; it entails physical, behavioral and cognitive responses as well. Grieving is a natural process that can be a healthy response to loss, if individuals are able to advance through each stage of grief. The stages of grief are as follows:
• Shock and Denial: In this stage of grief, a person’s initial reaction to loss will be shock. This may help an individual protect themselves from being too suddenly overwhelmed by the loss. Usually this stage will last two to three months.
• Intense Concern: This stage is defined by preoccupation with the loss, having little ability to think of anything else. This period typically lasts from six months to a year.
• Despair and Depression: This stage of grief is usually the most painful for the griever, as the individual will slowly come to terms with the reality of their loss. Many emotions and feelings will arise, including anger, guilt, sadness, depression and anxiety.
• Recovery: This stage is not an elimination of the pain experienced from the loss, but rather, when an individual grieving is able to show new interest in daily activity and normal living.
While the grieving process is usually considered a healthy response to loss, there can be complications for some. When you or a loved one is having trouble advancing through the stages of grief, there might be signs that the process can be dangerous and destructive. Grief, if not healthy dealt with, can develop into Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD), in which severe grief symptoms have been experienced for at least six months and a person is stuck in a maladaptive state. Research suggests that anywhere from 10-20% of those in bereavement are experienced Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD).
On a diagnostic level, Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) is present with the existence of five of the following symptoms:
• Confusion about one’s role in life or sense of self
• Difficulty accepting the loss
• Avoidance of reminders of the reality of the loss
• Inability to trust others since the loss
• Bitterness or anger related to the loss
• Difficulty moving on with life
• Finding life unfulfilling, dull and meaningless
• Feeling stunned, dazed, or shocked by the loss
In fact, clinical research points to the efficacy of both individual and group therapy sessions as instrumental in processing loss in a healthy and constructive manner. At Resilience Treatment Center, our Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) harnesses evidence-based therapies in a highly integrative and intensive manner customized to our clients’ unique set of needs. Included in our extensive range of modalities are: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy among others. As a critical component of Resilience’s approach to treatment, integrating individual and group psychotherapy modalities into our treatment plan is the cornerstone of our therapeutic program.