Posted by: gtcounseling | February 19, 2011

Healing Through Complicated Grief

Dear Grace,

It will be two years since I lost my best friend. She helped me play the recorder and helped me to be a musician. Since her tragic death I have not coped at all, I miss her every single day. And I can’t cope anymore. Do you have any advice?


Hello Gemma,

I am glad you wrote in to Grace Tree and my prayers are with you in your loss.  It’s very easy to get depressed and despondent when we lose someone very dear to us. The deep sadness, ache and pain is very natural and normal, part of the loss process. And, if we don’ take care of ourselves and allow the grieving process to occur it can consume us over time and be quite debilitating and harmful in many ways.  

There are several stages in the grieving process Gemma including shock, pain, anger, depression, guilt and more. And, when we travel through grief they rarely occur in a linear fashion but overlap. We can go back and forth between feelings and stages. Things we thought we could put behind often have a way of creeping back up and sometimes catch us off guard.  The grieving process is a very emotionally raw experience and can even be complicated by the circumstances surrounding the loss. It sounds like you may be experiencing ‘complicated grief’ and that is certainly hard to handle at times due to the nature of the loss.

Now is the time to be good to yourself and try to allow for your continued healing through this Gemma. Sometimes a ‘celebration of life’ event can help the journey through acute grief. This is where you participate in an event that commemorates the loved one’s life in a way that is personal to you. It can be something small and intimate, meaningful to you and her, and include others or just be by yourself.  Examples are prayer circles, volunteering for something in your loved one’s name, making a donation in their honor, creating artwork in their name, playing at a concert for others less fortunate, and so forth. You can be creative as you like and even do more than one thing. The idea is to celebrate the person you knew and praise God for the time you were able to spend together.  It will not instantly make the painful feelings go away, but it will help you focus on the many positives of the gift of having such a beautiful friend in your life.

Other things you can do to help might be to join a grief group at a local church or hospital if available, or even online, somewhere where you can share your pain and loss with others who are walking the journey also. Working with a professional counselor for a while can also help, working through and processing your feelings together to help get it all out. Also, spending time in God’s word and in communion with him, to know deeper the hope in Christ and the riches that his glory offers. I believe too, as scripture says, that ‘all things are possible’ with God who loves us, that he is able to carry our love, thoughts, prayers and communications to our loved ones for us.  When we allow God to be our bridge, hope, comfort and refuge he does not let us down. He understands our grief and pain and will walk through it with us each step of the way if we let him. 

Again, my prayers and thoughts are with you Gemma and I hope you find a deeper sense of peace and comfort in God in the coming days.


Carole L. Miller, LCSW-C


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