How Do Doctors Treat Complicated Grief? Part 1: Talk Therapy

Funeral Industry News November 9, 2023
Complicated Grief Talk Therapy

How Do Doctors Treat Complicated Grief? Part 1: Talk Therapy

Traumatic losses such as the sudden death – or sometimes even expected death – of a beloved family member can leave clients reeling. It’s often the case that death care staff is the first to encounter mourners caught in the grip of such emotional turmoil; as the stage where funeral home professionals encounter families grieving new loss is frequently early – such as soon after a death –this is not the stage where extreme cases of grieving are apparent.

But pre-need arrangements provide an opportunity to support mourners before the fact in the form of supplying a range of anticipatory resources, and this includes information. While everyone expects sadness or even depression, many are blindsided by long-term debilitation that comes with extreme forms of grief.

A compact, even bulleted overview in the form of local organizations and forms of grief and support available within your community provided to potential clients could make a tremendous difference to the experience of your families. Relevant content on grief support for clients in the form of website content or included in a condensed, even bulleted format can comfort and make a difference to those struggling to cope. You may find it useful to list such community sources, and to include an overview of the forms of therapy commonly employed.

For all ages

Grief support groups are the most visible, well-known format of talk therapy recommended by doctors for anyone mourning a significant loss, but if a loved one’s grief outpaces her recovery to a significant degree, it can seem like a futile attempt to discuss the source of pain which has progressed to dysfunction. But it’s treated effectively all the same by therapists trained in the nature of conditions of morbid grieving.

Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) is a diagnosable condition characterized by extended symptoms of grieving that interfere with daily life long-term. Effective therapeutic intervention by psychotherapy is possible through informed mental health professionals. Organizations like Columbia University’s Center for Prolonged Grief provide highly specialized attention to the unique treatment of prolonged grief.

While it could be months or years before a loved one confronts or recognizes such grief, it may help mourners to be exposed early, such as through your funeral home’s website, to information about grief support as well as the types of help available to those who grieve. For those whose grieving takes an extreme turn, it may be useful for them to know there are options besides medication available, and different forms of intensive talk therapy for different age groups.

While most medical practitioners may refer clients to therapists, there are specialized mental health treatments available to those in crisis, especially children.

Guidance for your area: a map

Community outreach centers, senior citizen programs, and area places of worship are all starting points. Sometimes places of worship frequently facilitate grieving groups and many offer counseling. Medical centers, particularly community-based sites, have access to the contact information for area mental health professionals who can help network to find appropriate assistance for your families. 

Prolonged grief disorder is a growing area of research with a range of appropriate treatment options for individuals and the many formats complex grieving may take. Treatment options include alternatives to both talk therapy and medications and a combination of both. Watch Connecting Directors for part two of this article on current pharmaceutical treatments available for prolonged grief disorder.