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Intro                                                          

I’m glad you chose to join me for this discussion on Distorted Grief

Did you know that there are different types of grief? 

Death alone is challenging to grieve, but there are other losses that occur after losing companionship, such as changes in family roles, financial changes, and loss of dreams of what could be. Keep in mind that the type of grief we’ll be discussing isn’t “good” or “bad,” it’s a mere way for you to identify what you are experiencing. When you understand what you are experiencing, it can be used as a grounding place and it can bring normalcy to the experience, which in itself is gratifying and beneficial. 

Distorted Grief is when one experiences extreme feelings of guilt or anger, noticeable changes in behavior, hostility towards a particular person,  or engages in self-destructive behaviors. 

An example of this is a parent losing a child. Unfortunately, in recent years, school shootings have become more and more prevalent. After the shootings, it’s common for parents and fellow students to experience distorted grief. Many have intense anger and demonstrate hostility towards the shooter. That internal anger is grief. The outward manifestation which is hostility towards the shooter is mourning. 

Another example is the student who day after day begs their parent to let them stay home. The parent, just like every other day, makes their child go to school. On that day, the shooting takes place and their child dies. The parent then experiences intense guilt and turns to self destructive behaviors such as frequently drinking until they blackout. Can you hear the grief and mourning? The internal guilt is grief. The outward manifestation which is drinking until they blackout is mourning. 

The last example is the wife who pleads with the doctors that there something is wrong with their husband’s health. The doctors run a few tests and share that nothing is wrong. The wife pleads for more tests be done, but the doctors refuse. The husband dies and the autopsy shows that if more tests would have been ran, a diagnose of hypertension would have been discovered by the doctors, resulting in her husband possibly living longer. The wife now has intense anger and has become aggressive towards anyone in the medical field. The internal anger is grief. The outward manifestation which is aggressive towards anyone in the medical field is mourning. 

Lets break down the criteria for Distorted grief a little more by using these examples. In all three examples, we can see the students, parents, and wife experienced intense anger or guilt. Hostility towards a person can also be seen in the first and third examples. In the first one, the hostility was towards the shooter, in the third example the hostility of the wife was towards all people in the medical field. The last criteria we see from the examples is self destructive behavior. In the second example, the parent internalized the intense they were experiencing and engage in drinking until blacking out. Again, the purpose isn’t to say any of this is good or bad, it’s a mere opportunity to learn what distorted grief is and how it’s manifested. 

The criteria for distorted grief that wasn’t seen in the three examples is noticeable changes in behaviors. A few examples if this criteria is isolation, disbelief in capabilities, more assertive, or reckless driving. 

So, what to do? 

Understand that these intense emotions of anger and guilt from distorted grief need to be addressed before normal grief work can begin. 

Let the anger and guilt it out in a healthy way. Let’s talk about coping skills for a moment. It’s crucial to understand that there

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