INDIANAPOLIS — Many of the conversations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic may now be focused on “moving on,” but for those who have lost a loved one, moving on could seem daunting. Now, a new acknowledgement of the pain many people feel may be the key to helping them through hard times.

Prolonged Grief Disorder” has now been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the standard for psychiatric diagnosis.

Prolonged grief is described as “intense longings for someone who’s passed or preoccupation with thoughts of someone who’s passed”. It can lead to things like intense emotional pain, feeling like a “part of you” has died and problems engaging with friends, pursuing interests, or planning for the future. It can also lead to emotional numbness or intense loneliness.

“When we experience loss, we crave structure and certainty,” Tim Mallory with Counseling at the Green House said. “And with all the changes that of been happening the past few years, a lot of people haven’t been able to get their bearings and dig in and process the great that they’re going through. How am I going to deal with this? How will I move forward if I have no idea what tomorrow looks like?”

Mallory said many people have come to the Green House during the pandemic dealing with issues of grief. He added that it is important to note that there is also different types of grief, including loss of opportunities, loss of community, loss of connection and loss of certainty.

With adding Prolonged Grief to the DSM-5, Mallory said it not only helps to remove the stigma of prolonged grief and send a signal to people that they’re not alone in what they’re going through, it also lets them know that there’s a way to get help as well.

“If the American Psychiatric Association recognizes a new and prolonged form of grief, that means enough people are experiencing it for to be on their radar,” he said. “And if he can be tracked it can be treated, he said, adding “It opens a lot of doors for people who might not have otherwise been seeking care.”