Identifying Symptoms of Complicated Grief

The following list identifies potential symptoms of complicated grief. 

  • You cannot speak of the deceased without experiencing intense and fresh grief.
  • A minor event triggers an intense grief reaction.
  • Themes of loss come up in conversations.
  • You are unwilling to move material possessions belonging to the deceased.
  • Your medical record reveals that you have developed physical symptoms like those the deceased experienced before death.
  • You have made radical changes in your lifestyle following a death, such as excluding yourself from friends, family members, and/or activities previously associated with the deceased.
  • You have a long history of low-grade depression, often earmarked by persistent guilt and lowered self-esteem. If a person experiences a false euphoria subsequent to a death, you may be experiencing unresolved guilt.
  • You have a compulsion to imitate the deceased without knowing why or with no degree of competence for the same behavior. This can include taking on personality characteristics of the deceased.
  • You have self-destructive impulses.
  • You have unaccountable sadness occurring at a certain time each year, at holidays, or anniversaries.
  • You have a phobia about illness or about death.
  • You avoid visiting the gravesite of the deceased.


IMPORTANT: If you checked any of the symptoms in the above list, you should consult with your pastor for a referral or professional counselor or your family doctor to help develop coping skills for grief and to address the issues that trouble you. 


Source: Allen, Rev. Don Jr. (2002). Christians Coping With Grief: A Workbook for Finding God's Truth in a Time of Sorrow. 31. Retrieved from



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