Losing someone is always difficult. There are emotions unleashed that people are not used to dealing with and questions that arise that they are forced to grapple with. While there is no set timeline on the grieving process, sometimes people are not able to work through it on their own. You should never insist that someone should “be over” a loss already, but there are signs to look out for that might suggest your loved one is struggling through the grieving process and needs professional help.
Retreating into Seclusion
It is important to have a strong network of support when you are coping with a loss. Still, sometimes people want to grieve on their own after a loss. The issue arises if this persists over a long period of time. If your loved one is choosing to only spend time on their own and is shrugging off the company of family and friends, they might benefit from grief counseling.
Intense Emotions or Numbness to Emotion
Emotions are going to be present after a loss, but if your loved one is experiencing them with too much intensity or not feeling emotions at all, that is not good. Feeling entirely overwhelmed by emotions might signal that they are not able to process the feelings on their own. Inability to feel any emotion might also be cause for alarm.
Engaging in Unnecessary Busywork
After a loss, there are many emotions that need to be processed. If your loved one is ignoring those emotions and sweeping them under the carpet as they engage in busywork to keep their mind occupied, this might mean they need help. Staying busy simply to avoid facing emotions is not a good solution for the long term and when they finally do face their feelings, the pain can be overwhelming.
Inability or Unwillingness to Engage in Normal Activities
Dealing with a loss can be difficult, but at some point, we all need to resume normal activities. We all have to go back to work, start doing chores, and participating in the real world again no matter how tough the loss. Someone that is not sleeping or eating or is unable to return to school or work might benefit from the help of a bereavement counselor.
Sudden Behavioral Changes
Slight mood changes after a loss are normal, but if your friend or family member is acting in ways that are very uncommon, it warrants a deeper look. Things to look for include excessive drinking, turning to drugs, engaging in destructive relationships, irrational anger, and other dangerous or unusual behaviors that were not present before.
If you have a loved one that is exhibiting one or more of the signs above, you might want to speak with them about seeking the help of an experienced bereavement or grief counselor. Just remember that everyone grieves differently and your loved one might not react well to the suggestion. If they refuse, simply continue being there for them and providing comfort and support as best you can.