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Obstacles to Grieving

Topic Overview

Certain conditions, events, and circumstances can be obstacles to grieving. These may include:

  • Living in a fast-paced society. People who live in fast-paced societies are often hurried through grieving when they are required to return to work or school.
  • Having no formal way to express grief. This can happen, for example, after a miscarriage. Ceremonies and rituals associated with loss give people ways to express themselves when grieving, protect them from being alone and isolated in their grief, and provide a boundary or limit for the grieving process.
  • Being unable to participate in a ritual or ceremony. Sometimes people are not able to participate in family rituals or ceremonies to express grief. They may not live near their family. Or their family may not be able to organize a ritual or ceremony to handle the loss. Or they may be too ill or injured to participate. Some families do not allow young children to take part in rituals or ceremonies.
  • Having certain psychological or cognitive disorders. Conditions such as depression, high anxiety or other mental disorders, intellectual disability, or substance abuse can interfere with a person's ability to grieve.
  • Having certain beliefs and values about grieving or death. For example, people who believe they need to be strong for the sake of other people may have difficulty grieving. Some people aren't able to grieve when they lose someone important through an illness that frightens them (such as cancer), suicide, or an act of violence.
  • Having unresolved problems with or conflicting feelings about the person who died. Having both positive feelings (such as gratitude) and negative feelings (such as resentment) toward a deceased person may sometimes interfere with healthy grieving.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Sidney Zisook, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised November 4, 2013

Last Revised: November 4, 2013

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