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New diagnosis raises awareness about prolonged grief disorder

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Posted at 6:54 PM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 12:35:07-04

CLEVELAND — The United States is closing in on 1 million deaths connected to COVID-19.

The loss of life, taking a heavy toll on those loved ones left behind.

"Grief is something that as a country we are really grappling with," said Dr. Katherine Lamparyk of Ohio Guidestone.

The American Psychiatric Association has developed a new diagnosis to better help those who are suffering like James Wallace.

With his red bible in hand, the Cleveland man tries to make it through each day.

"My favorite chapter is Psalms 91,” said Wallace.

The single father of four has suffered immense loss.

"My parents are deceased. They had cancer," said Wallace.

On top of that, his good friend was killed in a car accident and his sister has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

"When you have no friends, there's nobody there to help you with a lot of things," said Wallace.

Finding himself crippled with grief, Wallace realized he couldn't do it on his own.

"Ohio Guidestone is a real good place to go to," said Wallace.

Wallace is among the one out of every 10 individuals in mourning who can now be clinically diagnosed with "prolonged grief."

"Prolonged grief is really when it goes on and doesn't get slowly better over time," said Lamparyk.

The American Psychiatric Association has now designated a time period for the process.

"That intense longing and sadness that we experience in the beginning of grief is very normal."

However, if it lasts longer than a year for adults and six months for children, they could be suffering from the disorder.

"The treatment is primarily therapy if the grief has not gotten better," said Lamparyk.

Lamparyk is hopeful this new distinction will make it easier to access treatment.

"Generally, with an actual disorder, with a diagnostic classification, insurance companies are more likely to cover it," said Lamparyk.

James Wallace's therapist helps him cope with the day to day.

"He'll bring me food. He'll call me. Do you need this, do you need that?" said Wallace.

In addition to those material things, Wallace gets the tools needed to honor his losses and look to the future.

As for that bible passage, Psalms 91, it says “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."

"So I keep pushing," said Wallace.