IHF introduces programme for complicated grief

Categories: Care.
About 290,000 people are bereaved in Ireland every year. It is estimated that between 3,500 and 7,000 people – for a variety of reasons – are at risk of developing complicated grief. 

For most people, grief becomes more manageable with time and people find their own way through it with the support of family and friends. In complicated grief, the natural grieving process is derailed. People can suffer for years or even decades after a death, with feelings of intense yearning, preoccupation with painful memories and difficulty re-engaging with life. 

The Programme was officially launched yesterday by its patron, Dr Katherine Shear. Dr Shear is the Marion E. Kenworthy Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University School of Social Work in New York. She is a consultant to national and international groups working in bereavement and grief. 

This was Dr Shear’s second training visit to Ireland to provide advanced training to Irish practitioners in effective treatment for complicated grief. Her first training course took place in 2011 and was hosted by the IHF in partnership with the Psycho-Oncology Department of St Vincent’s University Hospital.

As part of the launch activities, Dr Shear also conducted a workshop for 30 Irish practitioners on how to implement the evidence-based treatment for complicated grief that she has pioneered. 

Dr Susan Delaney, who manages the Complicated Grief Programme, has trained under Dr Shear for the past two years. She commented: “Dr Shear has done pioneering work in this area and her complicated grief protocol has provided a new way to treat complicated grief that offers hope to both practitioners and bereaved persons who are stuck in their grief.”

She continued: “Our Complicated Grief Programme will consist of a small clinical practice but the main thrust of the programme will be capacity building to ensure that Irish people presenting with complicated grief have access to effective treatment.” 

The programme will maintain a list of professionals trained in the complicated grief protocol. Further information on accessing this treatment can be obtained by contacting Dr Delaney at +3531 679 3188.

The IHF is the national charity which promotes the hospice philosophy and supports the development of hospice and palliative care. Work in the area of bereavement is a core activity for the IHF. It has established a national education and resource centre from which it provides a comprehensive range of education and training programmes as well as resources on bereavement.