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Prolonged Grief

Overview

With prolonged grief, you may have an intense feeling of longing for a person who has died. You may have trouble thinking about anything other than the person who died. These feelings may interfere with your ability to take care of your daily responsibilities. They last longer than is usual for others in your social circle or from your cultural background.

You may be at risk for prolonged grief if you:

  • Had several major losses in a short period of time.
  • Lost someone very important in your life.
  • Experienced the unexpected or violent death of a loved one, such as the death of a child or a death caused by an accident, a homicide, or a suicide.
  • Have a history of depression or anxiety.

How people express prolonged grief varies. People may:

  • Act as though nothing has changed. They may refuse to talk about the loss.
  • Become preoccupied with the memory of the lost person. They may not be able to talk or think about anything else.
  • Drink more alcohol or use more tobacco.
  • Have trouble sleeping, or sleep a lot.
  • Isolate themselves from other people.

If someone talks about suicide, self-harm, or feeling hopeless, get help right away. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Or text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Credits

Current as of: October 18, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Jean S. Kutner MD, MSPH - Geriatric Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine

 

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