When You’re Gone: Seeking Closure After the Passing of a Loved One

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Her friends had become harsh, accusing her of wallowing in her grief. She was hurt, but, in a way, she saw their point. As she described it, time was moving on but she was not. It is worth noting that before George's illness, the couple had a strong and very satisfying relationship, in many ways the envy of their friends. By contrast, Christy had a shaky relationship with her mother, who she described as cold and critical. Her father was a nice guy but someone who could not stand up to his wife.

He had died when Christy was in her early 20s, shortly after she had married for the first time. Christy always loved her father's sister who seemed like the only adult who was really interested in her. Christy had not felt supported in her family when she was growing up, and she had a failed marriage before she met George.

Still, she had done well in school and was successful in her job as a mid-level manager for a small manufacturing company. When she met George, 3 years after her divorce, he literally swept her off her feet.

The couple met at a dance class and were immediately drawn to each other. Both were serious-minded but fun-loving people with many ideas for their shared future, They had a strong group of friends and socialized often. They were together for 9 years before George became ill, which was 5 years before he died. Christy was an exuberant, warm, loving person.

Throughout her life, she had weathered her share of disappointment as well or better than most, but George's death and the circumstances under which it occurred had her stymied. However there is considerable evidence that CG is a specific syndrome, different from normal grief and from other mood and anxiety disorders. The clinical picture can be understood as comprised of prolonged and intense acute grief symptoms accompanied by an array of complicating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Symptoms of acute grief include intense yearning or longing for the person who died, intrusive or preoccupying thoughts or images of the deceased person, a sense of loss of meaning or purpose in a life without the deceased, and a cluster of other symptoms that interfere with activities or relationships with significant others. Complicating thoughts include incessant questioning, worrying, or ruminating over some aspect of the circumstances or consequences of the loss.

A person with CG may be catastrophizing about the future or worrying incessantly about a range of bad things that may happen because his or her loved one is gone. Complicating emotional processes are negative valence emotions such as guilt, envy, bitterness, or anger, that are relentlessly activated and excessively painful, without periods of respite from positive emotions. Positive emotions, when they occur, are tinged with guilt.

Overly negative emotions can focus the bereaved person's mind on the painful events surrounding the death and increase the likelihood of thinking about negative consequences of the loss. It is difficult to reflect and reappraise when negative emotions are very activated. Complicating behaviors include excessive avoidance of reminders of the loss, compulsive proximity seeking, or both. For example, people with CG may dramatically restrict their lives to try to avoid places they went with the deceased or situations the deceased would enjoy.

They may avoid being with family or friends because of feeling envious, embarrassed, or anxious because of the death. At the same time, a person with CG may spend long periods of time trying to feel closer to the deceased person through pictures, keepsakes, clothing, or other items associated with the loved one. They may want to see, hear, touch, or smell things that remind them of the deceased loved one. CG symptoms cause a great deal of distress and usually interfere with functioning and with the ability to find meaning and purpose in life.

Many people with CG have suicidal thinking, sometimes at a level that is of concern. In our work, we have found the Inventory of Complicated Grief Prigerson et al, to be an excellent screening tool. However, there are currently no formal diagnostic criteria for this condition. Based on data 20 and extensive clinical experience during three large NIMII-funded treatment studies, we proposed a criteria set 21 Table I that was used in the deliberations by the DSM-5 workgroup. However, others have proposed alternatives 22 and the DSM workgroup is proposing criteria be placed in the appendix at www.

The person may also display difficulty accepting the death, intense anger over the loss, a diminished sense of self, a feeling that life is empty, or difficulty planning for the future or engaging in activities or relationships. Mourning shows substantial cultural variation; the bereavement reaction must be out of proportion or inconsistent with cultural or religious norms. The main differential diagnostic considerations for CG include normal acute grief and major depression, and, if the death is violent, PTSD.

Differential diagnosis can be challenging because symptoms overlap and comorbidity is common with CG, especially among those who are help-seeking. The difference between CG and normal grief is related to the heightened intensity and longer persistence of acute grief symptoms and to the presence of complicating processes, as described above. One of the indicators of CG is that the family and friends of the sufferer are eager for them to get help.

Often it is a family member or friend who finds the therapist or treatment program. This is a good indication that the grief symptoms are lasting longer than expected in the person's cultural context. The symptoms of CG have some overlap with those of major depression, just as normal grief has some overlap with depression. CG symptoms are strongly centered on the loss. For example guilt is specifically related to letting the deceased down, whereas guilt in depression is pervasive and multifaceted.

A grieving person maintains a sense of self-esteem and self-worth, whereas depressed people have lost faith in themselves. Additionally, grief symptoms not seen in major depression include intense yearning or longing for the deceased, strong wishes to be reunited with the lost loved one, a desire to feel close to the deceased, intrusive or preoccupying thoughts of the deceased, and efforts to avoid reminders of the loss.

People with CG feel the world could be made right instantly by the reappearance of the deceased, whereas those with depression have no such illusions. We know much more about neurobiology of depression than grief, but initial studies show them to be different. Also, importantly, medication treatment has differential effects on depression and grief symptoms. Depression can co-occur with CG and exacerbate CG symptoms. Inhibition of positive emotions robs the person with CG of a source of emotional nourishment.

The negative cognitive bias in depression increases the tendency to ruminate over the circumstances or consequences of the death. Depression saps energy and fuels avoidance behavior. Depression also interferes with interpersonal relationships, and companionship is an important facilitator of successful mourning. In all of these ways co-occurring depression can worsen CG and interfere with its resolution. When someone experiences the sudden unexpected death of a loved one, they may develop PTSD.

However, this needs to be differentiated from CG as there is some overlap in symptoms. People with CG experience intrusive images of the deceased loved one. They often engage in avoidance behavior and feel estranged from others. Many report sleep disturbance or difficulty concentrating. Close confrontation with death inevitably registers as a personal threat. However, fear of personal physical danger is very rare in CG.

Instead, bereaved people primarily experience sadness and yearning focused on the sustaining relationship they lost. That said, a physical trauma that threatens physical harm and causes heightened fear and hypervigilance, is a very different specific event than a loss. A physical trauma is contained and limited in space and time such that distance in time and space markedly reduce the threat. By contrast, a loss is never over, and the response to loss is quite different from the response to danger. An important loss, by definition, affects a person's experience of themselves and the world.

Most people are deeply and immutably changed after losing a loved one.

When You'Re Gone

Experiencing a trauma is very different. Most people who experience trauma do not develop symptoms. Almost everyone who loses a loved one experiences grief. Coping with trauma entails a period of appraisal of the threat and its possible implications. Expectations of danger and safety in certain circumstances may be revised.

Coping with loss requires a major modification of the memory systems that typically contain extensive information about the loved one. The finality and consequences of the loss must be assimilated and life goals and plans redefined without expectations of the loved one being included. Trauma may or may not have such extensive consequences. Differences in the quality, time course, and implications of loss and trauma are reflected in different symptoms of PTSD and CG.

PTSD is characterized by prominent fear and anxiety while sadness and yearning are predominant in CG. People with PTSD avoid situations and places considered to be dangerous, whereas people with is CG seek to avoid strong feelings of missing the deceased. PTSD is associated with hypervigilance to threat whereas physiological dysregulation in CG is related to loss of interpersonal regulators.

Occasionally there are other differential diagnostic questions, often related to other anxiety disorders. Many people with CG experience separation anxiety symptoms focused on other important people in their lives. Some experience panic attacks that may be associated with avoidance behavior. Others develop excessive uncontrollable worry about everyday events.

Any of these symptoms can be directly related to the loss, but it is also possible that the stress of the loss may trigger an anxiety disorder. Rates of panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, and generalized anxiety disorder are elevated in clinical populations with CG. Since any mood or anxiety disorder may be exacerbated by a major stressor, clinicians often need to decide whether symptoms are best explained by one of these prior conditions or by complicated grief, or whether both are present.

Risk factors can be grouped as predisposing person-related, relationship-based, or as related to circumstances or consequences of the death. Person-related risk factors include a past history of mood or anxiety disorder, a history of early insecure attachment style, and a past history of multiple trauma or loss. Most people who develop CG have had an exceptionally rewarding and fulfilling relationship with the person who died. Some types of loss are more likely to result in CG than others. Loss of a child, loss of a close life partner, and suicide or homicide loss are among the most difficult.

Additionally, if there are more individual circumstances of the death, such as failure to be present at the time of the death, disagreement or uncertainty with medical care, disappointment in one's own capacity to comfort the deceased, or with others' behavior, these can also become a focus of rumination that derails mourning and increases the risk for developing complicated grief. Troubling consequences of the death may include any of a range of difficult problems related to the deceased person's possessions or death arrangements, or to hostile or threatening behavior of others.

Sometimes a person can become excessively worried about how he or she will manage without her loved one in his or her life, or about what will become of certain other people now that the deceased is gone. These are just examples of ways in which circumstances and consequences of the death can become a focus of rumination or avoidance that interfere with learning about the reality and its consequences.

We conceptualize CG as a condition in which the normal healing process, entailing emotion regulation and learning, is derailed by complicating thoughts or behaviors. Treatment targets resolving complications and facilitating healing. A group of basic assumptions can inform therapeutic goals and underlie the principles that guide the treatment.

These assumptions include the following: human beings possess an instinctive mechanism for healing after loss, that is a component of the attachment system, the goal of which is to evaluate and integrate information related to the death into memory systems used to forecast and plan for the future; emotion regulation plays a role in successful mourning; trusted companions who are empathic, reliable, and responsive help with emotion regulation and serve as natural catalysts for the healing process—we don't grieve well alone; grief complications can occur and need to be addressed in order to free the stalled healing process.

We developed a treatment approach based on these assumptions and tested in a prospective randomized controlled trial. Companionship is central to all aspects of treatment. Natural healing is facilitated by addressing loss and restoration-related issues in tandem, and by entraining a process of oscillation toward and away from confronting emotional pain facilitates natural healing.

Imagery exercises are especially useful in fostering learning in both implicit and explicit memory systems. Positive emotions are physically and emotionally healthy and foster optimal creativity and problem solving. We used these principles to develop a set of procedures to help people overcome complicated grief. We also found that antidepressant medication appeared to be a helpful adjunct to the treatment and might be a part of the therapeutic armamentarium for complicated grief. Bereavement is one of life's most difficult challenges, yet most people weather its storms, comforted and supported by close companions.

A minority of bereaved people find themselves stalled in acute grief that seems to persist without respite, lasting years, or even decades after a particularly difficult loss. CG can be reliably identified and responds best to specific treatment. There is a pressing need for health and mental health professionals to learn to recognize and treat people with this condition. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Dialogues Clin Neurosci v. Dialogues Clin Neurosci.

When You’Re Gone: Seeking Closure After the Passing of a Loved One - Gaster Sharpley - Google книги

Katherine Shear Marion E. Katherine Shear. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Katherine Shear, Marion E. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Keywords: bereavement , grief , mourning , complicated grief , depression.

Introduction I have never climbed Mt. Keeping terminology straight Using the terms bereavement, grief, and mourning interchangeably is a problem. Different kinds of bereavement When we look, we can discern a general framework for grief, but its day-to-day manifestations are variable and wide-ranging, influenced by many factors. Characteristics of grief Grief is the usual instinctive psychological response to bereavement. Grief is not a form of depression Some people conflate the terms grief and depression.

In the words of author and scientist Kay Redfield Jamison: I did not, after Richard died, lose my sense of who I was as a person, or how to navigate the basics of life, as one does in depression. Nothing Was the Same It is very important that depression and grief not be confounded, because depression requires treatment and grief requires reassurance and support.

Characteristics of successful mourning Mourning is the process by which bereaved people seek and find ways to turn the light on in the world again. What is complicated grief? Box 1 Christy's situation is an example of complicated grief. Proposed criteria for complicated grief. The person has been bereaved, ie, experienced the death of a loved one, for at least 6 months At least one of the following symptoms of persistent intense acute grief has been present for a period longer than is expected by others in the person's social or cultural environment: -Persistent intense yearning or longing for the person who died -Frequent intense feelings of loneliness or like life is empty or meaningless without the person who died -Recurrent thoughts that it is unfair, meaningless or unbearable to have to live when a loved one has died, or a recurrent urge to die in order to find or to join the deceased -Frequent preoccupying thoughts about the person who died.

The duration of symptoms and impairment is at least 1 month The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning, where impairment is not better explained as a culturally appropriate response. Open in a separate window. Difference between grief and depression. Major depression Acute grief Pervasive loss of interest or pleasure Loss of interest or pleasure related to missing loved me Pervasive dysphoric mood accross situations Pangs of emotion triggered by reminders of loss Preoccupation with low self esteem; general sense of guilt or shame Preoccupation with the deceased; guilt and self blame General withdrawal from activities and people Avoidance of activities, situations and people because of the death Intrusive images are not prominent Intrusive images of the deceased are common Yearning and longing not usually seen Yearning and longing are frequent.

Risk factors for complicated grief Risk factors can be grouped as predisposing person-related, relationship-based, or as related to circumstances or consequences of the death. Treating complicated grief We conceptualize CG as a condition in which the normal healing process, entailing emotion regulation and learning, is derailed by complicating thoughts or behaviors. Summary Bereavement is one of life's most difficult challenges, yet most people weather its storms, comforted and supported by close companions.

Antonucci TC. Attachment and close relationships across the life span. Attach Hum Dev. Bonanno GA. Resilience to loss in bereaved spouses, bereaved parents, and bereaved gay men. J Pers Soc Psychol. Kersting A. Prevalence of complicated grief in a representative population-based sample. J Affect Disord. Kreicbergs U.

Insight #1: Grief is personal and unique.

Anxiety and depression in parents years after the loss of a child owing to a malignancy: a population-based follow-up. Psychol Med. Lannen PK. Unresolved grief in a national sample of bereaved parents: impaired mental and physical health 4 to 9 years later.

J Clin Oncol. Myocardial infarction in parents who lost a child: a nationwide prospective cohort study in Denmark. Cancer incidence in parents who lost a child: a nationwide study in Denmark. Cancer survival in parents who lost a child: a nationwide study in Denmark. Br J Cancer. Stroke in parents who lost a child: a nationwide follow-up study in Denmark. Walker WM. Sudden cardiac ceath in adults: causes, incidence and interventions.

Nurs Stand. Feigelman W. Stigmatization and suicide bereavement. Death Stud.

Bible Verses For Death of Loved Ones

Altgassen M. The influence of emotional target cues on prospective memory performance in depression. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. But the night of my first deep weeping, two weeks after his death, I wanted to touch and smell everything that he wore. I finally found a vest that he wore often, not a washable item, and there he was! I still go to hold it and sniff it to feel his presence.

Insight #2: You are dealing with more than one loss.

I miss him so much. It is almost 6 weeks now that he is gone. On the morning he died as I was sadly walking down the 6 flights of stairs, I got halfway down arriving on the ICU floor. As I turned to take the next flight down I was surrounded by the scent of lynx africa. I must have looked shocked as a Dr came running over to me. I asked if a man had gone past and she replied that we were the only people on the landing. Ah, what a comforting experience to have had.

When Someone You Love Dies,There Is No Such Thing as Moving On - Kelley Lynn - TEDxAdelphiUniversity

And I love that you wear it — smells trigger so much of our memory, what a great way to feel close to him! Omg I love that scent too. Both my boys wear the lynks Africa. It reminds me of Jacob so much? Ahh the triggers of memeories. Oh Marie, I am so glad you found something that still had that comforting scent. It is amazing how much smells connect us to memories and can make us feel close to someone! I love your post,. I lost my husband of 39 years marriage, It was a sudden accident.

I miss his sound of his voice. My grandson is graduating in a few weeks. He will be so missed at this event. My husband also died on this Grandson birthday. They were very close. I talk about my husband lots. Bette, I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure the graduation will be bittersweet. After a loss that is the way, even the happiest of events are laced with sadness, wishing the person we love was there.

It sounds like you are doing beautiful things to remember him, I hope the graduation day brings much joy. I so enjoy your site. I talk to my dog about Gary saying his name comfort for my dog to hear his name too. I took Gary slippers out left in a corner so my dog knows he is still the boss. The dog right after he died would lay on his slippers missed him too. Again I so enjoy your site. Ahhh, that is so sweet Bette. I think we often underestimate the grief of animals!

A Powerful Word For Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones

Thank you for the kind words about our site! We lost our son Nick 7 years ago at age Since the first Christmas without him, we have hosted a Christmas party for all his friends and now their children and spouses. We always toast Nick, remembering to keep him in our hearts, and have a large time — exactly what he would do. Also, we have planted a tree in his memory in a city park near the high school he attended.

We released balloons on the first birthday after we lost him, with a small ceremony at that same tree. We established a scholarship in his memory to a deserving band member at that same school, because we know how much he loved music and being a member of the marching band. And I talk to him all the time. Having lost both of my parents at a young age, I love all of these ideas and the concept of continuing bonds. Knowing that love lives on and the relationship continues has brought me comfort over many years. Thanks for all these great ideas and your inspiring work!

We know that no one really gets over grief, but learns to live with it, and by enjoying continuing bonds this makes living life more enjoyable …. Thank you Chelsea! And thanks for all the great items you provide that help people remember loved ones. I really love your posts and thank you so much for posting all that you do! Melissa, I am so sorry about your dad. You bring up a good but tough question. Personally, I think the key is starting small, just saying I will do one small, manageable thing today or this week or whatever.

It then sometimes means accepting that it will be hard. Our inclination is to avoid the pain, but sometimes it is only by leaning into the pain, working with it, that it eventually gets easier to manage. Some days will always be tough. But eventually the really bad, take your breath away days get fewer and further between. As mentioned in a previous post concerning the suicide death of our son on Aug. I shudder when a memory comes to mind.

The memory is still too much to bear. Or I become breathless momentarily when i slip into ruminating about what he must have suffered before he did the deed. Many people say that time heals and some people put a timeline on grief. Even if he is out of his misery my husband and I are in misery.

I appreciate your article very much and it reminds me that i have normal feelings. I knew what you were going through but I am not sure if I gave you a complete answer. I know how much you two loved each other. But you are right on with your list of 16 ways to deal with death. He is continuing the research we did together and is so glad that am also.

Those on the other side know what we are doing, what we are thing and when think of them. According to one of friends, with whom we kept in touch, remarked that he was happy, but wished his wife could , and not grieve the way she was grieving. I lost my husband to sepsis, which happened very quickly from a hospital acquired infection. I especially have a hard time parting with those things I associate with him. My husband will always be a part of my life, whether others like it or not. It gives you the ability to take action.

Who knew he was the glue. I like to believe he is. Hi, I just celebrated the One year Anniversary of my Daughter Rachelle, she passed away from Sepsis, and I found your ideas to be so great. I was able to remember my daughter in such a loving way. Thank you!! Interesting post Kelly. Thanks for bringing up such an engaging topic. This is really interesting, Kelly.

I am so glad it brought you what you needed from your mom. This is a really great example of continuing bonds — thank you so much for sharing. Kiri, this sounds amazing!! Please, if you think of it, come back after the trip and let us know how it goes. It sounds like it will be an amazing trip, however bittersweet! Hi Pamela. I am so sorry for your loss. You are right that this is something we should write more posts about. We will definitely write more on this topic in the future.

I think this is a good point. I work as a nanny and in Nov my lovely boss lost her precious ivf baby at 7 weeks pregnant. I was devastated, still am if truth be known even though 9 months have passed. I loved that little one from the moment of conception and was so looking forward to caring for him. Just 3 months later I lost my husband of 4 years suddenly and unexpectedly. I agree Julie! I find so much comfort in several items I have that belonged to loved ones I have lost. I think it is so comforting to have items that remind me of the people I have lost.

We are. Would love to meet you! He therefore had to get too sick to have the transplant and died. I had only, about 15 months ago, re-connected with him after 35 years. I do find your posts extremely helpful. I might not have known him well, but in ways this was a very intimate relationship and his death has hit me hard and very much by surprise. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

This year I am taking a trip Zoe wanted to do. After reading Thea Stilton and thy Mystery in Paris, she decided she wanted to go there, so we were planning to save for it. She would have been 8 next week and like last year I will be going out to have her favourite breakfast, as well as doing other things to remember her, such as some things for The Angel Zoe Kindness Project. I was shocked to say the least!

Anyway, she said that my mom was always with me and that she wanted me to use automatic writing to communicate with me. I had prayed for so long for some kind of contact with my mom and those prayers were finally answered… or maybe I was just ready to hear. Thanks for sharing this information Lisa!

I did a Google search yesterday trying to find you guys, but I just kept getting information about writing sympathy cards. Apparently I was not using the best search terms!! I will definitely go back and add your website to the content of our post. Both, my colleague Larry Lynn, and myself have really enjoyed your website and blogs. Love the information, love how you both share yourselves with your audience.

We feel and function in many of the ways you describe on your blog today. Not to be self promoting here….. You can continue to write and share with your deceased loved ones. There is still thinking that it is pathological or negative to continue to think about and share with someone who is deceased. But, I know how good it makes me feel to share with my deceased father.

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Jan July 18, at pm Reply. Litsa Williams July 21, at pm Reply. Louise February 7, at am. Bette May 19, at am Reply. Litsa Williams May 19, at pm Reply. Bette Champney May 19, at pm Reply. Carol Myers April 6, at pm Reply. Litsa Williams April 6, at pm Reply. Ah Carol these are such beautiful tributes!! Chelsea Hanson April 3, at pm Reply. Hi Litsa and Eleanor, Having lost both of my parents at a young age, I love all of these ideas and the concept of continuing bonds. Litsa Williams April 6, at am Reply. Melissa January 2, at pm Reply. Litsa Williams January 2, at pm Reply.

Alta Hanlon April 24, at pm Reply. Lisa March 28, at pm Reply. Hi Nita, My father died of Sepsis too. That was the hard part….. Wishing you Peace of Mind….. Nita Gregory March 28, at pm Reply. Litsa Williams March 24, at pm Reply. Julie Harrison March 24, at pm Reply. Lisa March 24, at pm Reply. Hello Litsa!

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