It's normal to feel grief and sadness after the death of a loved one yet for some people the effects can be much worse. People who go on to develop what psychologists call prolonged grief disorder (PGD) experience persistent yearning for their lost loved ones, difficulty in accepting their loss, numbness and a shattered sense of identity. Paul A. Boelen from Utrecht University in the Netherlands looked into how people's goals and wishes for the future affected their grieving process in a study of 160 bereaved people. The participants in the study were asked to write down seven important personal goals and to complete questionnaires designed to measure their levels of PGD and depression. The study found that more severe PGD was associated with goals which were less specific, felt to be - at least partially - beyond people's control, and which had a lower perceived likelihood of being achieved. Mourners with more PGD had goals that were associated with loss and feelings rather than with work, education or relationships.
Boelen, Paul A. - Personal Goals and Prolonged Grief Disorder Symptoms Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy doi: 10.1002/cpp.731