Feeling down and blue while grieving is normal. There is no fixed timeline for grief to complete, but there is the danger that normal grief can turn into abnormal grief. Abnormal grief, or prolonged or extended grief, can be dangerous. Prolonged grief is perhaps, the preferred term to use.
Grieving should decrease with time. If it does not, your grief could become prolonged. Do not mistake the constant longing for your loved one who died for prolonged. That impact of the loss of a loved one never disappears, but it should not remain the focus point of your life. If it does remain the focus point, it can hamper your ability to continue your life, and you can become stuck. This can lead to major depression, or in the cases of unexpected or violent deaths, cause Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. In these cases, you need professional help. Grief becomes prolonged if a person is still unable to speak about, see a photo, or think about the person who died even months after the death. There is a tendency to avoid any discussion or handling of possessions of the deceased. Clothes and rooms are left untouched, and sometimes the bereaved refuses to accept the person died.
Various causes can play a role in turning normal grief into extended grief: your bond with the loved one, your physical and emotional health, and your ability to face the reality of death. Often a stressed bond between the bereaved and the loved one before death can cause extended grief. You should face any unresolved issues that existed between you and the deceased to promote healing. If this is a major issue, you should seek outside help of a psychologist or a counselor. Occasionally, prolonged grief also appears when a person cannot openly mourn the loss of a beloved, especially in socially unacceptable relationships like homosexual relationships or from extramarital affairs.
How will I know if my grief is becoming prolonged?
It is difficult for the person who experiences grief to realize that grief is prolonging. Usually family or friends realize that something is wrong. This can be the first sign that the grief is taking too long. There is possible symptoms that can help you identify abnormal grief. A deep yearning for the departed even years after death, constant sleep disturbance, extreme weight loss of weight gain, constant feelings of guilt, complete disinterest in life and suicidal thoughts is clear warning signals. When experiencing abnormal grief you could find yourself looking, and hoping, to find the departed in known places. Extreme anger and bitterness could target yourself, other family members, or even the deceased. You could find yourself avoiding any activity that could remind you of your beloved. It feels as if the memories can ruin your life for days. Your life feels meaningless and empty, made worse by nightmares and flashbacks with disrupting sleep patterns. Just remember that grief can, and do move in stages or phases, but not necessarily in sequence. In some stages, most of these symptoms are normal and no cause for alarm. Deciding if grief is prolonged can be difficult and it is a good habit to ask the help of a professional when suspecting this.
Do not allow grief to hold you bondage for the rest of your life.