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Is This a Bereavement Issue?

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A 30 year old female accidentally ran over and killed her 3 year old three years ago. Devastated by the incident, she now sees the child everywhere she goes and behaves as if the child is alive. She has never visited the gravesite. She sets a plate with food for the child, turns down and makes the bed, buys clothes and toys for the child, is planning to enroll the child in school, and so forth. She is receiving treatment from a psychiatrist. In your opinion, what is the dx and best treatment for this person?

Is This a Bereavement Issue?

Answered by on -


Diagnosing mental health conditions involves gathering extensive information about an individual’s life and personality. Without that information, and without conducting an in-person interview, it’s impossible to provide an accurate diagnosis.

Generally speaking, when an individual sees people who aren’t there and behaves in a way that indicates a break with reality, he or she may be psychotic. People who are psychotic, by definition, have lost contact with reality.

It’s not uncommon for a traumatic event to precede psychosis. The trauma of having lost a child, in the manner you described, could have led to her unusual behavior.

Psychosis is most effectively treated with antipsychotic medication. Once stabilized, a grief therapy or bereavement group would be recommended. It could be instrumental in healing from the tragedy of losing a child. I hope this answers your question. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Is This a Bereavement Issue?

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Is This a Bereavement Issue?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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