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What is Prolonged Grief Disorder?

It’s natural to experience intense feelings of grief after the loss of a loved one. However, sometimes people get stuck in their grief and have trouble readapting to their lives.

Prolonged Grief Disorder is characterized by persistent and intense feelings of grief that prevent you from functioning in your daily life. It involves a level of fixation on the deceased that borders on obsession.

What makes prolonged grief different from normal grief is the impact on daily functioning. People struggling with prolonged grief are usually unable to achieve a new sense of normal or return to their typical routine and habits. It can feel as if you’re trapped in your grief.

Prolonged grief also lasts longer than what is typical. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) categorizes prolonged grief as grief that incapacitates a person for longer than a year.

However, it’s important to remember that everyone heals at their own pace. You can grieve a loss for over a year without it being prolonged grief. Similarly, you can be diagnosed with prolonged grief even if you’ve been grieving for less than a year.

It is the intensity of the emotion and the impact on your life as well as the duration that can result in a diagnosis of Prolonged Grief Disorder.

What does Prolonged Grief Disorder Look Like? 

Prolonged Grief Disorder, sometimes referred to as complicated grief, is marked by incapacitating and overwhelming feelings of grief. It looks like an inability to cope with the loss, and it persists in both time and intensity beyond what is typical.

Experiencing prolonged grief is more common when the deceased is a parent, child, or partner. It also occurs more frequently when the death is violent or associated with an ongoing traumatic event – such as COVID-19, war, or a natural disaster.

When you are unable to say goodbye to your loved ones or lean on your support system due to certain circumstances – such as the pandemic – you may be at a higher risk for prolonged grief disorder.

Some symptoms of prolonged grief include
  • Intense longing for the deceased
  • Denial and inability to accept the loss
  • Ruminating thoughts about the deceased or the circumstances surrounding their death
  • Feelings of numbness
  • Believing that life is meaningless
  • Problems functioning in your social, work, or school life
  • Avoiding reminders of the deceased
  • Feeling as though a part of you has died
  • Catastrophizing about the future
  • Self-blame
  • Difficulty planning for the focus
  • Anger or irritability
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Feeling alone or detached from others



NYC Therapists Who Specialize in Therapy for Grief and Loss

Connecting with the right therapist is the most important factor in your search. We’re here to help you find a great match.

How Therapy Can Help

Connect with a therapist who specializes in Prolonged Grief Disorder

You can learn how to heal and move forward with your life with the correct treatment plan. We can help you take the steps you need to accept the loss and experience joy once again. 

Prolonged Grief Disorder responds well to treatment. It doesn’t have to debilitate your life and keep you from living in the present. 

If you’re not ready to commit to therapy just yet, there are still ways you can take control of your own healing. Check out PsychCentral for practical ways you can cope with prolonged grief disorder today. 


Is Prolonged Grief Disorder Disrupting Your Life?

We can help.

If you’re struggling to return to your daily life after a loss, we’re here to support you and give you the tools you need to move forward. Reach out today for a 30-minute complimentary consultation with a therapist who specializes in prolonged grief disorder.


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