What is Delayed Grief?
We all experience grief in different ways. We often feel profound sadness, anger and guilt for a few months or years after a loved one passes away. After some time, you may find you can begin healing and move on. For others, grief can take longer to settle in, sometimes even occurring years later. This is known as delayed grief and is more common than people might expect.
Delayed grief is difficult for those experiencing it because you can feel as though your reactions are out of context or out of proportion to the current circumstances. Sufferers may feel worried about others judging them or struggle to talk about their feelings because their loved ones might already be past the most intense stages of their own grief.
Why Does Delayed Grief Occur?
Delayed grief can happen due to a range of reasons. For example, you can initially repress your feelings of grief out of practical necessity or the sense that you have to be “the strong one” only for them to come out at a later date. This sensation is common for those in charge of their loved one’s estate or funeral arrangements, who feel they don’t have time to process their grief. Other times, the death of a loved one might be followed by another major life event, such as the birth of your child or the commencement of a new job.
Delayed grief can also occur when you make an effort to avoid reminders of the deceased person or the circumstances of their passing. If your loved one passed away in a sudden or violent way, it can also lead to delayed grief following months of processing the shock of the incident. While anyone can experience delayed grief, it tends to be more common if you have a history of depression or anxiety.
Signs of Delayed Grief
Delayed grief can manifest itself in a variety of ways. People who have repressed or ignored their grief can sometimes experience:
- Mood swings
- Hyper alertness
- Addictive/self-harming behaviours
- Unexplained headaches
- Aches and pains
We have a tendency to avoid dealing with pain and trauma, both consciously and not. When we do this with grief, it can lead to changed behaviours, from overreactions to certain situations to decreased independence.
What to Do About Delayed Grief
If you think you may be struggling with delayed grief, there are a number of steps you can take:
- Seeking closure – Writing out your thoughts or finding someone you can talk to openly can help process emotions like sadness, anger and guilt
- Acknowledge what you’re avoiding – Doing certain things you may have avoided such as visiting the gravesite of your lost loved one.
- Change your behaviour patterns – Try to break out of negative cycles such as obsessive behaviour or excessive alcohol consumption.
- Therapy – Sometimes the best option is to seek bereavement support or consult a therapist, even for a short stint. While it can be painful, the grieving process helps us heal. If you have delayed grief, you should try to complete this natural process.
Need Assistance Arranging a Funeral?
At Fry Bros Funerals, our experienced funeral directors can provide you the support you need after a loved one passes away, including guidance arranging a funeral and referrals for support services. Call us for services across Maitland, Newcastle, Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley and all surrounding areas on 02 4933 6155 or contact us online.