What is grief?
When we face a loss of any kind we are overcome by very strong emotion which is better known as grief. This grief can be experienced as a result of losing a job, home or even the sense of freedom and independence. This natural response to loss is all part of the process of acceptance and healing. This article will help you understand the different types of grief better.
Types of Grief Explained
As people, we have at some stage experienced grief. We are all different and so are our experiences. The process of grieving is also unique and it is completely okay if yours is different from the rest. The interesting thing about grief is you may be unaware that you are actually grieving or that you have experienced a loss that deserves to be grieved.
This kind of grief can be experienced long before a loss happens by loved ones and caregivers. Anticipatory grief occurs when a loved one receives a sensitive but significant diagnosis and their health, unfortunately, begins to deteriorate. The diagnosis is what triggers the grief emotion long before the loved one passes away.
This grief is quite complex. Seeing someone suffer and finally having to let them go can make us feel relieved but because we are human we may feel guilt. It may seem that this kind of grief reduces the impact of the loss but for some people the grief emotion even more painful.
There is really no formula for how to best grieve because we are all different as individuals. Some people are able to continue with their day to day activities despite the feelings of grief. Looking from the outside you may think that the person feels nothing but in fact, they feel all the sadness, numbness etc. The people who undergo normal grief will experience high emotions in bursts, the intensity of the grief reduces over time.
In some situations like we are faced with due to Covid-19. Families may experience multiple losses within a short period of time. This grief can be very taxing on a person’s mental health because you do not have enough time to grieve one loss before experiencing the next.
Some people will feel the emotions associated with grief due to death at a later stage. Experiencing this grief at a later stage can be triggered by another life event or an unrelated but significant event. The grief emotions can become very intense at that moment only to realize that the real reason is because of the delayed grief.
This type of grief is ‘normal grief’ that if unattended becomes so severe that it impairs an individuals functionality. Contributing factors could be the nature of the loss (multiple, sudden, violent), the relationship and other life experiences. Prolonged grief can be identified by self-destructive behaviour, violence, or radical lifestyle changes.
Some people are unable to wear their hearts on their sleeves. There could be personal reasons for this. It is, however, unfortunate that this could lead to some issues in the person’s behaviour and interactions with others because the person did not allow themselves to grieve.
A person may feel this kind of grief if they experience a loss that other people would not acknowledge as a loss in the person’s life. Ambiguous grief can be experienced due to the death of an ex-spouse, a co-worker or a pet. This grief can also be experienced when a person is physically present but also absent in other significant ways.
This occurs when large groups of people grieve the death of a public figure, or when a natural disaster has occurred and has claimed lives or left a lot of people destitute.
Some people do not show any signs of acknowledging loss. This is usually due to shock and denial of the death.
Having read the above types of grief. It is evident that grief is felt by everyone but how we experience it is not the same. As people, we have to learn to live with grief given different circumstances.
The reason I am sharing this content is so that we learn to be more kind and gracious towards each other. The signs of grief are not always visible but that does not mean that the grief is not present and unfelt.