Prolonged Grief Disorder


Grief is a common, normal human emotion, and a natural reaction to loss. The New York Times had an interesting article on grief.

How long should it take to overcome grief? Is there a “normal” time? Based on what?

Grief typically resolves within 6 to 12 months. Some people continue to experience the symptoms of grief and develop prolonged grief disorder.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) officially recognized prolonged grief disorder as a mental health condition. Prolonged grief disorder was added to the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5)”, a manual that includes standards for assessing and diagnosing mental health conditions.

This will help researchers secure funding. The official recognition allows insurance coverage to apply to reimburse mental health care professionals for treating people with the condition.


Grief affects everyone differently. The diagnosable condition occurs when someone experiences extensive and intense feelings of grief after losing a loved one. Click here for an infographic on Prolonged Grief Disorder.

Does the grief persist for more than 1 year? Does the grief cause disruptions to the person’s physical, mental, and spiritual health?

According to the APA, symptoms of prolonged grief disorder include emotional numbness, intense emotional pain and loneliness, identity disruption, and disbelief about the person’s death. The following symptoms overwhelm the person: pervasive yearning for the deceased; difficulty accepting the death; intense emotional pain; emotional numbness; feeling like you’ve lost a part of yourself; persistent depression; and withdrawal from typical social activities.

Therapy does help many of our clients. Therapy for grief, or grief counseling as it is often called, is designed to help you process and cope with a loss. Please get help.

Stages of Grief

There are five stages of grief under the Kübler-Ross model: Denial; Anger; Bargaining; Depression; and Acceptance.

Over the years, experts expanded the model:

  1. shock and denial
  2. pain and guilt
  3. anger and bargaining
  4. depression
  5. the upward turn
  6. reconstruction and working through
  7. acceptance and hope