Michelle Suzanne Scott

Registered Social Services Worker




Michelle Suzanne Scott

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Complicated Grief

Photo by:  Dreamstime 82946486

In October 2016, I attended a workshop sponsored by Bereavement Ontario Network and presented by Dr. M. Katherine Shear.  Dr. Shear has studied complicated grief and believes the type of bond and connection we have with the person who has died, and whether we feel stuck or stopped in our mourning process, determines whether grief becomes complicated.  For more information regarding Dr. Shear’s work, please visit

The researchers in death and dying have different definitions of COMPLICATED GRIEF.  At its most fundamental level, complicated grief arises when there is an inability to integrate and reconcile your loss and adapt to your “new” life without the person who died.  The following are some possible reasons grief may be complicated:

  • You may have had a different relationship with the person who has died and you may express your grief differently than others.
  • Depending on the way the person died, you may be stopped in your mourning. For example, if the death was by suicide, homicide, overdose, or a sudden accident, others may deem it too painful to openly mourn. They may unintentionally stop you from expressing yourself the way you need to.
  • There may be a history of abuse or neglect with the person who died and you are now faced with painful memories that are surfacing.

The following is a poem that expresses how a lot of people with complicated grief may feel.


Don’t tell me that you understand,

Don’t tell me that you know.

Don’t tell me that I will survive,

How I will surely grow.

Don’t tell me this is just a test,

That I am truly blessed.

That I am chosen for this task,

Apart from all the rest.

Don’t come at me with answers

That can only come from me.

Don’t tell me how my grief will pass

That I will soon be free.

Don’t stand in pious judgment

Of the bonds I must untie,

Don’t tell me how to suffer,

And don’t tell me how to cry.

My life is filled with selfishness,

My pain is all I see,

But I need you, I need your love,


Accept me in my ups and downs,

I need someone to share,

Just hold my hand and let me cry,

And say, “My friend, I care.”

By Joanetta Hendel

If you think you or someone you know may be experiencing complicated grief, seek help. See your GP/ healthcare provider or check out my Community Resources page.  Understand that everyone grieves differently … contact me for a time to talk.

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