Abnormal grief, also known as complicated grief or prolonged grief disorder, is considered to be a display of a difficult and excessively emotional response to a loss of a family member or close friend. Although a grief period is normal when a major loss occurs, normal grief typically proceeds a series of steps (the Kubler-Ross model) into a final stage of acceptance and adjustment to the loss.
Abnormal grief is considered to be when a person seems to be unable to adjust and move forward following a loss. When this occurs professional assistance can be very helpful and often times necessary in order for the individual to deal with their grief. There is some research to suggest that dopamine levels may be associated with abnormal grief. A history of previous mental disorders can also be a contributing factor to the development of abnormal grief.