Types of Grief Anyone Can Feel

Types of Grief Anyone can Feel

Grief is often associated with the loss of a loved one; however, this type of loss isn't the only event that leads to grief.

Grief could be triggered by sad events such as the loss of a job opportunity, loss of safety, an infertility diagnosis, and even more by happy occasions such as changing apartments or going off to college.

Humans are likely to experience various types of grief during a lifetime, and we often have unique experiences with our grieving journey.

For one, when an individual grieves in a usual way and has typical grief reactions, they are said to be experiencing normal grief.

People who experience normal grief accept the reality of loss, grief healthily, and gradually heal as time passes.

Another type of grief people often experience is anticipatory grief.

Anticipatory grief occurs when a person expects a huge loss or change and begins a grieving process in anticipation- before the event happens.

In addition, people often experience complicated grief after going through a major loss.

Complicated grief can be difficult to deal with as the griever may experience severe grief reactions and may need grief therapy to heal properly.

Read on to gain deeper insights into the various types of grief anyone can feel:

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Alex Wiley, LPC

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Normal Grief 

Everyone has a unique grief experience, so there's no precise definition of "normal grief."

However, normal grief is one of the types of grief whereby a person grieves in the expected or predictable way, considering their culture, age, and personality.

People who experience normal grief are likely to grieve in a healthy way.

Although it is normal to experience various emotions after loss, such as pain, sadness, and anger, people experiencing normal grief learn to accept their feelings sooner and process them healthily.

Similarly, normal grief helps a person accept the reality of loss and move forward in their healing process.

It is typically believed that people who experience normal grief go through all five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance- between six months to two years.

In addition, normal grief allows a person "live" and get support from others while grieving.

A normal griever, in spite of their pain, will continue to practice self-care and personal hygiene, participate in their hobbies and lean on friends and family for support.

Anticipatory Grief 

One of the types of grief people experience at a point in their life is anticipatory grief.

This kind of grieving occurs when someone is expecting a loss and begins to grieve or mourn the loss before it happens.

People often do this in order to prepare their minds and body for the "inevitable."

For instance, anticipatory grief can be spurred when a loved one shares news of moving far away or is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

On receiving such news, the recipient may begin to experience several emotions, such as helplessness, loneliness, anger, or sadness, resulting in anticipatory grief.

For some, anticipatory grief helps to lessen the impact of loss when it finally happens.

This type of grief can allow an individual to accept the reality of loss and prepare for the end outcome.

Anticipatory grief can also bring a sense of peace and closure and enables the griever to spend quality time with the individual while they are still present.

While various people experience positives to griefing in anticipation, it can be harmful to others.

For some, anticipatory grief robs them of a happy time with their loved ones as they are usually too focused on the loss and painful feelings of loss.

It is also difficult to share feelings of grief with others and get needed support, as the loved one is still present.

Delayed Grief 

Although there's no set guideline or timeline for grieving, people experiencing delayed grief often delay their grief reactions until long after their loss.

Delayed grief is one of the types of grief where a person seems unaffected by the symptoms or impacts of grief until much later.

Delayed grief could occur as a result of a traumatic experience, young age, or the occurrence of a major life event.

The griever may intentionally or unintentionally avoid the reality of loss and the emotional and psychological impacts of grief.

The griever could also subconsciously suppress their emotions and avoid grief reactions by focusing on work, keeping busy, changing locations, or suppressing memories of the lost loved one.

While delayed grief may provide temporary relief for the griever, the feelings of grief often manifest at a much later time.

When it manifests, delayed grief can be much more challenging to deal with.

Absent Grief 

Although many people think of grieving as experiencing anger, heartache, crying uncontrollably, inability to do simple tasks, etc., grief could also take other forms.

Absent grief is one of the types of grief whereby the griever shows no typical grief reactions to their loss.

This type of grief sometimes occurs when the griever is in denial/shock, feels relief, doesn't know how to respond to loss, has grieved in anticipation, or has difficulty processing the "new" reality.

The griever might appear to others- and themselves- as if they are not affected by the loss or going through grief.

In reality, however, absent grief often manifests as intense worry, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, absent-mindedness, or anger.

However, because these are not typical grief reactions, the griever might find it difficult to get support or much-needed help from others.

Hence, seeking counseling or speaking to a health care professional is always advisable when absent grief goes on for an extended period. 

Complicated Grief 

One of the types of grief people feel is complicated grief.

This type of grief occurs when a person has severe and prolonged grief reactions and is unable to function as they used to.

Complicated grief can be perceived as a prolonged or traumatic kind of grief.

Warning signs that a person is experiencing complicated grief may include violent outbursts, low self-esteem, deep feelings of guilt, self-destructive behavior, radical lifestyle changes, or suicidal thoughts.

Several factors may contribute to the development of complicated grief.

It could be due to the griever's unhealed traumas, life experiences, social issues, personality, conflicting feelings of loss, relationship with the lost loved one, or the nature of the loss/death.

People experiencing complicated grief should consider therapy or any other form of professional help in order to process their emotions, and manage complicated feelings and grief healthily. 

Conclusion

It is essential to understand the type of grief you're experiencing to know what your grief journey needs, understand your grieving styles, heal properly and provide grief support for others.

Everyone has unique grief reactions, and yours might be different from another grieving person sharing the same feelings of loss with you.

The common types of grief people anyone can feel include normal grief, anticipatory grief, delayed grief, absent grief, and complicated grief.

Resources 

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January 28th, 2023