Handling Grief and Loss When You Have ADHD

Going through grief or loss can mean experiencing symptoms like anger, sadness, emptiness and anxiety. For people with ADHD, however, grief and loss can be far more challenging. ADHD individuals tend to process and express emotions much more intensely. Grief and loss are part of life, but fortunately there are ways to handle it in healthy and constructive ways.

if you have ADHD and dealing with grief, or know someone who is, it’s important to understand how ADHD affects the grieving process:

  • Unpredictable emotions – People with ADHD often feel emotions intensely, and they may react strongly in ways that may seem inappropriate. Some turn inward, while others will act out. It can be difficult for parents or spouses to walk the fine line between allowing healthy physical expression and indulging poor or hurtful behavior.
  • Misdirected hyper focus – The ADHD phenomenon known as hyper focus (deep and intense concentration) can be problematic when sad emotions are at play. It’s normal to feel sadness and anger, but be alert for a growing sense of depression and desperation. You’ll need to acknowledge the turn quickly, and redirect the emotions toward a more positive end before they spin out of control.
  • Being isolated by loss- Those with ADHD often experience a pronounced feeling of desolation with the loss of someone or something close to them. When a key figure leaves, dies or falls ill, an important source of dependence and support is lost, which can add a sense of fear, loneliness, and hopelessness to the grief.
  • Step One: Acknowledge your feelings of grief. Conventional wisdom such as “don’t feel bad,” “give it time” and “be strong” does not resolve grief. Start by recognizing when you are grieving.
  • Step Two: Be willing to ask for help. You have to be responsible for yourself, your choices and your reactions, but that doesn’t mean you have to shoulder the work by yourself. Dealing with grief begins with getting support, from individuals or groups.
  • Step Three: End the isolation, one of the symptoms of grief. Reach out and talk to your family, a counselor or coach, your minister, or someone who you trust to listen and help you take a proactive approach to overcoming your grief. Some coaches and therapists specialize in issues like ADHD, and Grief Recovery Specialists are trained to teach you the step-by-step method for moving beyond your grief.

ADHD can amplify the negative emotions around grief and loss. But if you seek help and allow yourself to go through the grieving process, you can recover, rebuild your life and become stronger.

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