Factors that prolong grieving

About Grief

Grief is a normal reaction that can occur in anyone following a bereavement, but

the bereaved families of a catastrophic loss after a disaster may suffer from so called “prolonged grief” or “complicated grief” which could require specialized treatment.


Below is a list of factors which might contribute to developing prolonged grief. If the bereaved are experiencing more than one of these factors, and If they are grieving enough to interfere with their daily life for a while, they should not keep it to themselves, but they should try to seek as much support as possible from people around them or support organizations. If you are a supporter, please monitor them carefully.


  • When the deceased is considered an irreplaceable person
  • When many bereavements or losses occur simultaneously or consecutively
  • If the bereaved believe that they were directly or indirectly involved in the cause of death
  • If the bereaved cannot find the body of the deceased
  • When the bereaved witnessed a shocking situation, such as severe damage to the body of the deceased
  • If the bereaved had a conflict or love-hate relationship with the deceased
  • If the bereaved had any previous unresolved loss experiences
  • If the bereaved have suffered any current of past mental illness
  • The bereaved had a tendency to feel uneasy even before the disaster
  • When the bereaved has been isolated, having no one to share sad feelings with
  • When a child or an adolescent loses an important person
  • When the bereaved face financial difficulties due to the bereavement
  • If any lawsuit or legal action is involved


Source: Noriko Setou, Soichiro Maruyama (2010): Understanding Complicated Grief and Early Support. The Japanese journal of hospice and palliative  care 20 (4)