Prolonged Grief Disorder example
Case Study, Prolonged Grief Disorder Nov 26, 2023


  • Name: Elsa
  • Age: 24
  • Occupation: Medical student
  • Background. Elsa is a diligent and ambitious 24-year-old medical student. She is pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor. She has a close-knit family and is known for her academic excellence.

Presenting Problem:

Elsa experienced a cascade of losses that triggered significant emotional distress. Her mother passed away during the COVID-19 pandemic. A tragedy compounded by her inability to attend the funeral due to academic constraints imposed by her medical school. The lack of empathy from her professors left her with a deep regret for not being able to bid a proper farewell to her mother. Several months later, Elsa faced another devastating blow when her grandmother, another essential figure in her life, also passed away.

Timeline of Events:

  • Early 2021: Elsa’s mother succumbs to COVID-19 during the pandemic.
  • Academic Constraints: Despite the emotional turmoil, Elsa could not attend her mother’s funeral due to inflexible medical school policies, prioritizing exams over compassionate leave.
  • Subsequent Loss: A few months later, Elsa’s grandmother, her emotional anchor after her mother’s death, also passes away.

Current Challenges:

  • Grief and Loss: Elsa finds herself overwhelmed by grief and compounded by the regret of not being present at her mother’s funeral.
  • Academic Stress: The demands of medical school persist. It forced Elsa to compartmentalize her emotions and focus on her studies.
  • Lack of Emotional Support: While Elsa has a supportive boyfriend, the weight of her losses continues to affect her daily life.

Supportive Measures:

  • Boyfriend’s Intervention: Elsa confides in her boyfriend about her struggles. Recognizing the severity of her emotional distress, he suggests seeking professional help and encourages her to consider therapy.
  • Psychological Intervention: Elsa first gathers the courage to attend therapy sessions with a psychologist. The psychologist conducts a thorough assessment. They consider the context of Elsa’s losses and her struggles with grief.


Elsa is diagnosed with prolonged grief disorder (PGD). The symptoms align with the criteria outlined in the DSM-5 for PGD. It includes persistent yearning for her mother, preoccupation with her mother’s death, and difficulty accepting the reality of the losses. Understanding Prolonged Grief Disorder: A Comprehensive Overview

Treatment Plan:

  • Grief Counseling: Elsa engages in grief counseling sessions to explore and express her emotions in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): The therapist incorporates CBT techniques to help Elsa challenge and reframe negative thought patterns associated with guilt and regret.
  • Supportive Network: The therapist encourages Elsa to lean on her support network, including her boyfriend, friends, and any available family members.

Long-Term Goals:

  • Emotional Healing: Work towards accepting the losses and finding ways to remember and honor her mother and grandmother.
  • Academic Accommodations: Explore options for academic accommodations that allow flexibility during challenging personal times.
  • Resilience Building: Develop coping strategies to navigate future challenges and stressors.


  • Regular therapy sessions to check progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed.
  • Encourage ongoing communication with her support network.

Elsa’s case underscores the intricate interplay between personal grief, academic pressures, and the importance of seeking professional help to navigate complex emotional challenges. Through a multidimensional approach, Elsa can work towards healing, resilience, and integrating her losses into her life journey.

About author

Karuna Kaul is psycho socio clinical psychologist, who works with all age group people. Her profession motivates her to serve people who are facing behavioral issues. She has over 8 years of experience and has successfully established credibility in the areas of counselling and wellness. Assessment and behavioral analysis and training and coaching. She has been an active advocate of mental health awareness. And all her endeavors in the field are primarily focused on educating more and more people about Mental Health concerns and promoting Holistic Wellbeing. She has done master in clinical psychology PG Diploma in counselling and guidance and certified in drug addiction counselling Also she has done neuro medicine psychology from London University, Kent College of United Kingdom. With an experience of six years, she had worked with various organization which provides mental health services.