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An amount of individuals find it difficult to resolve their issues of grief and develop a complicated grief reaction. 10% to 20% of bereaved individuals tend to develop complicated grief. Complicated grief is a bereavement reaction which prolongs acute grief. In complicated grief the pain of loss remains strong and healing doesn’t take place. The individual may experience pervasive images of the death whilst positive memories of the deceased may be repressed. The individual might perceive life as empty in which the individual yearns to be with the deceased. Thus the perception might result into the individual thinking that the only relief is in fact to end their life too. As one can imagine individuals with complicated grief experience dysfunctions in their daily, occupation and social functioning,

Issues which arise due to the complicated nature of surviving a suicide:

  • Need to understand why the loved one ended their life.
  • Guilt and responsibility, in which the loved one blames themselves for the death as they feel responsible for their death, almost like they feel that they should have paid more attention to the behaviours of the deceased.
  • Rejection from society due to the stigma which surrounds the topic of suicide.
  • Perceived abandonment from their loved ones due to cognitive distortions in which they only attend to negative stimuli
  • Anger towards the deceased as they cannot understand why the loved one abandoned them and caused them such pain.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Risk of suicide.

Individual and group interventions have been found to be effective in helping individuals make sense of this experience. Professional help also aided the individual in their own grieving process towards better wellbeing.

 

Karl Grech is a counsellor. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples within Willingness. He can be contacted on karl@willingness.com.mt.