Grief is one of the most painful emotions we can experience. Though it most commonly occurs after losing a loved one, we can still feel grief after other traumatic losses such as a job loss or divorce.
However, since most people associate grief with death, they expect their grief to manifest in a certain way. However, grief can be felt after any loss, which means that grief comes in many forms. Read on to learn more about eleven types of grief that you may experience at some point in your life.
It can seem insulting to call any form of grief “normal.” However, this type of grief is named this because the behaviors and emotions are typical of what is expected during mourning. This type of grief is closer to our stereotypical preconceptions of what grief is and therefore is considered “normal.”
Normal grief is uncomplicated. It is painful for sure, but there are signs that the individual is accepting the loss. There is gradual relief of the emotional pain and efforts to move forward.
This does not mean that the person is ready to bounce right back to normal life. In fact, normal grief typically lasts from six months to two years, so it can still be a gradual healing process.
Anticipatory grief is felt before the actual loss. It is common in individuals who watch their loved ones battle a terminal illness. They will often begin to grieve before the person passes because they have already accepted the loss.
This type of grief can bring up conflicting emotions. On the one hand, you are mourning the loss of someone who is still with you, but on the other hand, you may already be preparing for a future without them. Be gentle with yourself, no matter what you feel. We rarely feel the emotions we expect during significant transitions and losses, so it is important not to judge yourself for the feelings that come up.
Sometimes, people don’t immediately grieve after loss. For whatever reason, they may consciously or subconsciously bottle up their emotions or repress or deny them. Delayed grief is when these feelings of grief come back later, perhaps months or years after the loss. The grief may come out after a different and unrelated loss, or it may finally release after some therapy or inner work.
Complicated grief brings up emotions that may be conflicting or confusing. For example, you may experience complicated grief when losing a job that didn’t bring you joy. Yes, you’re upset that you lost your job, but there may also be relief at finally leaving that environment. Similar feelings come up for people who have lost an abusive parent, as they are mourning the loss but are also conflicted because of the abusive relationship.
Similar to delayed grief, inhibited grief occurs when an individual shows no outward signs of grief. However, they may not necessarily feel their grief at a later time. Instead, their grief may manifest in physical symptoms, leading to poor sleep, body aches, and other physical conditions.
Chronic grief never seems to get better, even years after the loss. Normal grief may last for years, but the intensity typically ebbs and flows. This does not happen with chronic grief, which often remains just as painful years later as it was on the day of the loss. Individuals with this grief experience great difficulty moving forward with their life.
On the contrary, abbreviated grief is much briefer than one would expect. Individuals who experience this kind of grief may have already processed the loss before it occurs (such as when losing someone to a terminal illness) or may have found a substitute for the loss quickly (such as finding another job). Nevertheless, they still feel the pain of the loss but find a way to move forward.
As you may have guessed, exaggerated grief can be more intense than some other types. The emotions are unbearable to cope with and do not lessen over time. This can be due to the type of loss experience or may be because the person experienced multiple losses over a period of time.
Disenfranchised grief occurs when society or the community denies the individual the allowance for grieving. This can happen for a variety of reasons. One reason this may occur is that the individual was in a secret relationship with the person who passed and therefore cannot openly mourn. Another example is when individuals lose their pets. Many people don’t view pets as worth grieving, so they may prevent the mourner from expressing their emotional pain over the loss.
Absent grief is a more serious version of inhibited grief. The person may not grieve out of denial that the loss actually occurred. This grief can last for decades and may also manifest in physical symptoms.
After the past few years, you may be more acquainted with collective grief than ever before. Collective grief is felt by entire communities and occurs after major disasters such as war, natural disasters, pandemics, terrorist attacks, and the death of a political leader. This type of grief can affect a community for years or may even manifest as trauma that lasts generations.
There is no single formula for how someone should experience grief. The experience of mourning is completely dependent on the person in question and their particular loss. This article serves as a reminder that there are many types of grief and that one is not better than the other. However, these eleven types are by no means a comprehensive list. Grief is a normal process to go through, but there is no cookie-cutter version of it.
If you are experiencing grief, consider talking with a therapist or a trusted friend. Socializing and discussing your feelings are critical to processing your grief and moving on. If you are looking for other tips to help you move forward with your grief, you can find resources and information here.
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