Watch for the warning signs

It’s common for a grieving person to feel depressed, confused, disconnected from others, or they think they are going crazy.  But if a bereaved person’s symptoms do not gradually start to fade – or they get worse with time – this may be a sign that normal grief has evolved into a more serious problem, such as clinical depression.

Encourage the grieving person to seek professional help if you observe any of the following warning signs after the initial grieving period – especially if it’s been over two months since the death.

  • Difficulty functioning in daily life
  • Extreme focus on the death
  • Excessive bitterness, anger or guilt
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Inability to enjoy life
  • Hallucinations
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Constant feelings of hopelessness
  • Talking about dying or suicide

It can be tricky to bring up your concerns to a bereaved person.  You don’t want to be perceived as invasive.  Instead of telling the person what to do, try to state your own feelings: “I am troubled by the fact that your are not sleeping – what can we do about that?”