BPD How Borderline Personality Disorder Can Inhibit Bereavement By Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University. Learn about our editorial process Updated on November 11, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Johner Images / Getty Images Grief is defined as the process of reacting to a significant loss while bereavement is the period of sadness that follows. While in most cases, bereavement usually refers to the loss of a loved one, it may also refer to the loss of employment, a physical ability, possessions, or other events. Bereavement is a complex period of time that is considered normal and may be accompanied by a variety of emotional reactions, behavioral responses, and thoughts. For example, as you grieve in the course of bereavement, you may experience sadness, anger, and/or relief. You may also feel the urge to withdraw from other people or to seek out social support. Bereavement that's prolonged, overwhelming, or that seriously impairs your daily life is considered "complicated grief," a condition that may require therapy with a healthcare professional. Bereavement and Borderline Personality Disorder While there is very little research in this area, people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), which is characterized by an intense fear of abandonment, may theoretically be at greater risk for complicated grief due to their intense emotional reactions to separation from loved ones. If you have BPD, grief can be much more intense when you lose a friend or loved one than it is for other people. You may express your grief through impulsive or destructive behaviors, like drinking or violence. These actions usually only worsen your grief and continue a cycle of pain and distress. BPD can also limit your expression of grief. It can cause a heightened sense of unwarranted anger, guilt, and shame. Frustration and rage are particularly common. Your anger can be spurred by feelings of helplessness and loneliness. In the case of the death of a loved one, it's possible you may feel responsible for what happened, even when that's not the case whatsoever. You may already continually struggle with feelings of abandonment and rejection sensitivity, which can be heightened with the death of a loved one. This can keep you from handling bereavement in a healthy way because you feel so alone and isolated. Or you may be so used to hiding your emotions that you cannot go through the natural grieving process. By suppressing your feelings and your sense of loss, you extend the bereavement process and make it much more complicated, inhibiting your ability to function. Bereavement in Therapy Unfortunately, loss and grief is part of life and learning to handle bereavement is essential for your mental and physical well-being. If you have BPD and are struggling with managing your emotions and grief after a loss, seek out a therapist specializing in personality disorders. A good therapist can help you through the normal bereavement stages and help you handle those feelings of anger, helplessness, and frustration. They will walk you through the natural process so you can handle it healthily without resorting to dangerous behaviors or self-harm. You may also learn some coping techniques to help you manage your intense emotions, from mindfulness meditation to keeping a journal. While the bereavement process can be painful and upsetting, it's essential in order for you to heal and move forward. By seeking treatment, you can begin learning how to handle losses appropriately. Borderline Personality Disorder and Your Family 9 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. Grief, Bereavement, and Coping With Loss (PDQ®): Patient Version. PDQ Cancer Information Summaries. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2013. Shear KM, Ghesquiere A, Glickman K. Bereavement and Complicated Grief. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2014. doi:10.1007/s11920-013-0406-z Giourou E, Skokou M, Andrew SP, Alexopoulou K, Gourzis P, Jelastopulu E. Complex posttraumatic stress disorder: The need to consolidate a distinct clinical syndrome or to reevaluate features of psychiatric disorders following interpersonal trauma?. World J Psychiatry. 2018;8(1):12-19. doi:10.5498/wjp.v8.i1.12 Bryant RA, Kenny L, Joscelyne A, et al. Predictors of treatment response for cognitive behaviour therapy for prolonged grief disorder. Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2017;8(6):1556551. doi:10.1080/20008198.2018.1556551 Mushtaq R, Shoib S, Shah T, Mushtaq S. Relationship between loneliness, psychiatric disorders and physical health? A review on the psychological aspects of loneliness. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(9):WE01-4. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/10077.4828 Brüne M. Borderline Personality Disorder: Why 'fast and furious'?. Evol Med Public Health. 2016;2016(1):52-66. doi:10.1093/emph/eow002 Baker AW, Keshaviah A, Horenstein A, et al. The role of avoidance in complicated grief: A detailed examination of the Grief-Related Avoidance Questionnaire (GRAQ) in a large sample of individuals with complicated grief. J Loss Trauma. 2016;21(6):533-547. doi:10.1080/15325024.2016.1157412 Matusiewicz AK, Hopwood CJ, Banducci AN, Lejuez CW. The effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for personality disorders. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010;33(3):657-85. doi:10.1016/j.psc.2010.04.007 Huang FY, Hsu AL, Hsu LM, et al. Mindfulness Improves Emotion Regulation and Executive Control on Bereaved Individuals: An fMRI Study. Front Hum Neurosci. 2018;12:541. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00541 Additional Reading Bryant RA, Kenny L, Joscelyne A, et al. Predictors of treatment response for cognitive behaviour therapy for prolonged grief disorder. Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2017;8(6):1556551. doi:10.1098/rstb.2017.0273 Nakajima S. Complicated grief: recent developments in diagnostic criteria and treatment. Philos Trans R Soc Lond, B, Biol Sci. 2018;373(1754). doi:10.1098/rstb.2017.0273 National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health. Borderline Personality Disorder, Treatment and Management. Leicester, UK: Royal College of Psychiatrists; 2009. By Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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