A World Defined By Absence


People with complicated grief can get lost in feelings of absence, convinced that the only way they could ever feel better would be to bring the person back. Grief dominates their lives. Life seems purposeless and health is jeopardized. Complicated grief sufferers describe this feeling as being “stuck,” as if grief has taken hold of their mind and won’t let go.

I keep thinking I will hear his voice. I can’t believe that he really isn’t coming back. I walk around the house waiting for him to call me. My heart aches so I can barely breathe.

The days seem endless but going to bed only brings even more pain. I do not know what to do. All I do is think about him and I don’t really want to take care of myself. I just keep thinking maybe we could have one more conversation

Feeling isolated and alone

People with complicated grief don’t know what is wrong and neither do their friends and family. Those struggling with complicated grief assume that their lives have been irreparably damaged by the loss and there is no possibility of a meaningful future.

I thought I was prepared for his death. I thought I would feel sad for a little while and then it would get better. That didn’t happen. Now I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what I am supposed to be feeling and doing. It seems like there is no way to rejoin my community. The future seems bleak and uninteresting without him.

Natural support systems dwindle as others begin to feel frustrated and helpless and tire of the sense of futility and withdraw their companionship.

Anniversaries get more and more painful as people don’t acknowledge them. I feel like I have to ask them to share things with me and that’s not fair. Is it that they don’t know how much I want this? Maybe its because they never experienced it. I don’t think they know how much my heart hurts or they would say something. But I am learning that people just find death too difficult to talk about and that makes me sad and it makes me feel so different from them.

It is very hard to trust anyone because I feel like no one understands me. People walk on eggshells when they are around me. The phone rings but I sit on the couch staring outside thinking about all the things I will never know about him. My dreams are shattered. Why wasn’t I the one that died. It doesn’t seem fair.

Holidays are so painful. I don’t see how people can expect me to be there and enjoy myself when the person I want most is not here. No one wants to see me so emotional so they try not to mention his name and I hold everything in and that makes things even worse. I feel so angry at my friends and family. I can’t feel close to anyone any more.

Professionals too are often uncertain how to help. The may not know how to recognize symptoms of complicated grief or how to help people when something interferes with adaptation to loss.

My therapist seems uncomfortable when I talk about the person who died. Sometimes she says its time to put that behind me and move on. Sometimes she just changes the subject. I feel like this is too painful for her too. I feel like I have to take care of her or I might lose her too.