He calls his essay an "attempt to take a balanced view of the arguments for and against diagnosing Complicated Grief," and whether one agrees that his view is balanced, he does an excellent job of summarizing his topic, delving into everything from Holly Prigerson's and Kathyrn Shear's point of view to key ideas from authors featured in a recently published book of scholarly essays on Complicated Grief, which Wilson calls "a seminal collection of writing."
He thoughtfully covers the issue of what constitutes normal grief and grief from a traumatic death and identifies the features proposed to distinguish Complicated Grief from both, namely its intensity, duration, and effect on a person's functioning. He elaborates on this latter feature, which is most interesting to me -- for it is a person's ability to function in life that I rely on to determine if someone I am working with might need more assistance than I am able to offer.
The value of Wilson's essay, in part, is that it shows a clinician -- who is not also a researcher -- trying to grapple with the difficult questions of Complicated Grief (or not) and grief as a malady (or not). To his statement (which is, I believe, a paraphrase of Therese Rando's thinking) "it is the idiosyncratic, complex nature of all grief, normal and complicated, that defines the problem," I would add that the problem also lies in trying to answer such questions in a reductive way, which to me is the crux of the matter.In the end, he emphasizes a caregiver's point of view with which I strongly agree:
For practitioners, this concept reminds us of the importance of a client-centred approach rather than a reliance on textbooks to tell us what to expect, both in healthy and dysfunctional grief ... Clients are not there to fit into neat theories, they are individuals. We can and should learn about grief by listening closely to their human experience.