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Complicated Loss

When you lose a person with whom you have had a strained relationship, your grief may feel confusing and complicated.  You may feel that you are not grieving or that you do not have a right to grieve.

This is not the case—you have a right to grieve even if the relationship was difficult. The people we lose may have had problems with addiction, mental health issues, abuse/neglect, gambling, and infidelity. These problems may have a lasting impact on your life. If your relationship with the person involved both good and difficult times, you may experience a range of emotions, including sadness, relief, or numbness. After your loss, you are left with conflicting feelings about the individual, yourself, and your relationship with them.

Self-care while grieving a
complicated loss

Take care of your health. Grief can be hard on your physical health. It can help to exercise regularly, eat nutritious food, and try to get enough sleep.
Take time to adjust. Go at a comfortable pace and be easy on yourself. There is no rush.

Rely on your support system.  Find someone you can talk to openly about difficult emotions. Choose a trusted friend or family member who will listen without judgment. Also, a counselor or support group may give you the help you need.

Put away ideas of what you “should” be feeling. Every relationship is unique and your grief will be unique too. Know that it’s okay to keep it real by remembering the good and the difficult parts of the relationship as you grieve. Most relationships are a mixture of both.

See your doctor. Keep up with visits to your healthcare provider. Let your healthcare provider know if you are having trouble taking care of your everyday activities, like getting dressed or fixing meals.

Seek professional support. Depending on your experiences, which may have been traumatic or harmful, you may benefit from professional counseling for support.

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