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What we treat

Grief and Mourning

Therapy & Medication for Grief and Mourning

Individuals experience and respond to loss in a multitude of ways. Contrary to popular belief, there is no one “right” way to mourn a loss. Disbelief, sadness, anger, shock, and guilt, are just a few of the full range of emotions one might feel. At The Midtown Practice our therapists offer a compassionate, safe space to help you process your loss at whatever state of grieving you are in. Your therapist will aim to facilitate a healing environment as you adapt to life after the loss. Some of the strategies used to promote mental health and wellbeing during this difficult time include: seeking out an individual therapist; finding a bereavement group; knowing who your closest supports are and utilizing them; practicing extra self-care; and accepting whatever emotions come up for you.

What are the kinds of losses?

A primary loss is associated with significant events including death and major life changes. Primary losses bring forth secondary losses. Secondary losses are often overlooked but can emerge as significant issues. When you lose a loved one a secondary loss may include loss of companionship, sexual intimacy and your role in the family.

Loss of a loved one is one of life’s most intense and painful experiences. Often, the bereaved feel that nothing but the return of a loved one can bring true comfort. Because it is inevitable, we must learn to cope with the sadness so that eventually we can re-engage with the things that bring our lives meaning and fulfillment. .

What is bereavement?

Bereavement is the experience of having lost someone close to you.

What is grief?

Grief is inevitable. Grief is the response to bereavement. It is an intensely emotional, disruptive period following a loss that gradually diminishes as the reality of death is comprehended and accepted. The grieving process involves all aspects of your being including your thoughts, behaviors, physical and spiritual being. The hallmark of grieving is intense sorrow, longing, yearning, along with thoughts, memories and images of the lost one. Grief is permanent. We never stop feeling sad or missing the individual we lost. Gradually, over time, grief and the emotional pain is integrated into life. The goal is for the bereaved to adapt and reconstruct their life. We can help you learn to restore resilience and build a full life, albeit without your loved one.

What is the difference between grief and mourning?

Grief is a natural emotional reaction and describes your thoughts and feelings after the loss of a loved one. Some symptoms of grief are denial, anger, sadness, yearning to be with the loved one, thoughts and memories of the loved one, stress, and anxiety.

Mourning is the outward manifestation of grief. Mourning can involve talking about the loved one, crying, praying, expressing your thoughts and feelings out loud or through writing or creative outlets. Healthy mourning leads one to feel deeply connected to the deceased while at the same time enables one to imagine a sustainable future without the loved one.

Grief is not depression. However, grief increases the risk for anxiety and depression, PTSD, panic disorder and complicated grief.

What is complicated grief?

Complicated grief is when grief becomes pervasive and interferes with one’s functioning beyond the period of acute grief. Initially after a loss, one is likely to feel numbness, sadness, guilt, and anger. If these symptoms do not fade and ease with time, it is possible you are suffering from complicated grief. Complicated grief is a condition that warrants clinical intervention and treatment.

What are the symptoms of complicated grief (prolonged unresolved grief)?

  • obsessive rumination about the circumstances or consequences of the loss
  • silent protest against the loss
  • endless waves of emotional pain
  • feeling a sense of loss of purpose
  • intense sorrow and longing for the person who died
  • excessive avoidance of reminders about the loss
  • inability to accept the finality of death and its consequences
  • social isolation and suicidal thoughts
  • persistent and intrusive thoughts about the lost one

Grief and loss are universal. Sometimes when the mourning is prolonged, unresolved or disabling, you may need help. The Midtown Practice is here to help. Studies report that prolonged grief can be treated successfully with psychotherapy, and at times combination therapy with medication. Contact us to schedule a consultation to learn more.


Resources

  • Zhai Y, Du X. Loss and grief amidst COVID-19: A path to adaptation and resilience. Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Jul;87:80-81. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.04.053. Epub 2020 Apr 23. PMID: 32335197; PMCID: PMC7177068.
  • Shear MK. Grief and mourning gone awry: pathway and course of complicated grief. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2012 Jun;14(2):119-28. doi: 10.31887/DCNS.2012.14.2/mshear. PMID: 22754284; PMCID: PMC3384440.
  • Nakajima S. Complicated grief: recent developments in diagnostic criteria and treatment. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2018 Sep 5;373(1754):20170273. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0273. PMID: 30012739; PMCID: PMC6053994.
  • Johannsen M, Damholdt MF, Zachariae R, Lundorff M, Farver-Vestergaard I, O’Connor M. Psychological interventions for grief in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Affect Disord. 2019 Jun 15;253:69-86. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.04.065. Epub 2019 Apr 10. PMID: 31029856.
  • Lundorff M, Holmgren H, Zachariae R, Farver-Vestergaard I, O’Connor M. Prevalence of prolonged grief disorder in adult bereavement: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2017 Apr 1;212:138-149. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.01.030. Epub 2017 Jan 23. PMID: 28167398.