Did you know that there are many different types of grief? While you may feel like you have an expectation of what grief means or what it can look like, there are more than a dozen different ways that grief can manifest itself depending on what triggered it and your response. Read on as Titan Casket explores the different types of grief and how each type of grief can impact your life as you navigate loss.
Table of Contents
- What Are The Different Types Of Grief?
- Normal Grief
- Abbreviated Grief
- Absent Grief
- Anticipatory Grief
- Chronic Grief
- Collective Grief
- Complicated Grief
- Cumulative Grief
- Delayed Grief
- Disenfranchised Grief
- Distorted Grief
- Exaggerated Grief
- Inhibited Grief
- Masked Grief
What are the Different Types of Grief?
Let’s briefly explore each different type of grief and their characteristics.
Grief is a natural emotional and physical reaction to a significant loss in your life, whether it is the death of someone close to you, the end of a relationship, a terminal illness diagnosis, or a dramatic change in circumstances. There is no set time to grieve, and people cycle through the five stages of grief in their own way. “Normal” grief is the most common reaction to this loss, as the bereaved exhibit “predictable” symptoms ranging from crying, shock, insomnia, and lack of focus, as well as other physical signs of grief. As time passes, normal grief lessens, and the bereaved will adapt to the loss.
An abbreviated type of grief is a relatively brief emotional reaction to loss. This type of grief typically manifests itself when someone grieves the loss of a person for whom they had a distant attachment. It can also occur when other emotional pressures complicate it. For example, when someone receives a terminal illness diagnosis, they may experience an abbreviated grief period for a related job loss because they are dealing with other more powerful trauma.
When a person doesn’t exhibit any outward signs of grief immediately following a loss, they may be suffering from the absent type of grief. While it may appear that the person is unaffected by the death or other loss, they may be, in fact, experiencing a profound sense of shock or numbness. The person suffering from this type of grief may also be choosing to put aside their own sense of loss (or “stay strong”) to support someone else who is also suffering from bereavement. Typically, this is not an issue unless someone remains in a prolonged state of absent grief.
When someone receives a terminal illness diagnosis or is suffering from a long-term progressive illness, it is not unusual for that person and their loved ones to experience a type of anticipatory grief. The mourning process often begins before death as all involved are forced to look ahead to when death arrives. This process is often combined with making final arrangements and the sharing of goodbyes. Anticipatory grief may also appear in people facing a debilitating disease that will significantly negatively impact their independence.
While there is no set timetable for grief, if a person experiences profound feelings of overwhelming grief after an extended period, they are said to be experiencing chronic grief. The person may be in a prolonged state of hopelessness that could lead to depression. A person dealing with a chronic type of grief may not have accepted that the loss is real or avoid anything that could remind them of the loss. If you are concerned that someone you love is experiencing chronic grief, you may want to suggest professional counseling.
As the name suggests, collective grief is a type of grief shared by a group of people. The group may be a network of friends, community, state, country, or multiple countries. The substantial death toll due to a pandemic, natural disaster, war, or attack could initiate a type of collective grief. Even the sudden death of a well-loved celebrity can induce collective grief and a period of mourning shared by millions of people.
If day-to-day tasks and life requirements are being negatively impacted for a prolonged period, a person might be suffering from a type of complicated grief. People experiencing this type of grief are often trying to recover from traumatic loss through sudden or violent circumstances. They may be dealing with multiple losses. Reactions not only impair their ability to handle daily life, but they can lead to significant alterations in lifestyle, behaviors that appear to be self-destructive, a distancing from relationships, and even suicidal thoughts. If you spot this kind of intense, prolonged grief, you may want to consult the services of a therapist or other mental health professional.
If you are faced with a succession of losses, often in a very short period of time, you may experience what is referred to as cumulative grief. This type of grief can be particularly trying because you may not have fully processed the first loss before being faced with another. This is common following accidents that claim the lives of more than one family member, during a pandemic when friends and family have been lost, or for the elderly who may lose friends and family in a short period.
Sometimes mistaken for absent grief, delayed grief occurs when there is an extended amount of time between bereavement and mourning. When a person feels that they need to help other survivors (particularly young children) first, they may experience a type of delayed grief.
When loss is dismissed or not given the kind of recognition the bereaved needs, that person might experience a type of disenfranchised grief. Those around the bereaved may (even unknowingly) minimize the grief someone feels when faced with the death of a former spouse, pet, or co-worker. Someone may also suffer from disenfranchised grief when caring for a loved one who is experiencing significant mental or physical declines. The loved one is still physically present, but you may feel distressed at losing the person they once were.
If someone you love is exhibiting extreme changes in behavior and anger (including hostility to themselves and the people trying to support them), they may be experiencing distorted grief. It often accompanies situations where a death or terminal illness occurs due to negligence or a crime.
Grief can feel quite intense at times and come in waves as you process and heal following a loss. However, if grief becomes progressively more severe over an extended time, the impact on someone’s physical and mental health can be profound. Contacting a health care professional is highly recommended if you or someone you love is experiencing this type of grief.
When someone is faced with a loss but does not exhibit outward signs of grieving, they may be experiencing inhibited grief. Unlike absent grief, this person may be experiencing feelings of grief, but they choose to only handle those emotions in private. They may believe that their feelings of grief are a burden or somehow inappropriate to express them to others. There may be physical and mental health repercussions to hiding grief, including headaches, nausea, lethargy, and pronounced aches and pains.
Masked grief often expresses itself through out-of-character behavior or physical ailments that do not appear to have a physical cause. For instance, instead of acknowledging the pain of the grief, someone might start complaining of unspecified illnesses or physical ailments at a time that is significant to the loss (for example, the anniversary of the death).
The information provided above is not meant to replace expert medical or mental health advice. If you or someone you love is having difficulty coping with loss, please reach out to a qualified mental health professional.
Do you have other questions about the types of grief or any other issues relating to mourning or end-of-life services? Titan Casket is here to help you get the funeral you want at a fair price. Contact us in the chat window or here to get started.