When Grief Becomes Dangerous

When someone we love dies, we feel like our world has been turned upside down. The changes can feel overwhelming. As the loss sinks in, we feel profound loneliness and sadness. These feelings are a part of the normal grieving process. Over time, we begin to accept the loss and experience a reawakening of energy and hope.

But what if our reactions concern us? How do we know when to seek help?

Be Aware of Warning Signs

If you experience feelings so intensely or for so long that you or others become alarmed by your reaction, you need to seek professional help.

Watch for danger signs:

  • uncontrolled bouts of crying
  • inability to sleep or eat
  • extreme preoccupation with the deceased
  • ignoring personal hygiene
  • missing work and/or other commitments
  • isolating yourself at home for an extended period
  • extreme self-destructive behavior (substance abuse, thoughts of suicide)

If you start thinking you can’t go on like this, if you think about hurting yourself (or another), or if you start to make a plan to kill yourself, call 411, ask for your local suicide hotline number and call it immediately. Or go directly to the emergency room of a nearby hospital. Or call 911 for immediate help.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s actually a sign that we recognize the scope of the problems we face and we intend to address them effectively.

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