Grief is a natural process that everyone goes through when they experience a loss. However, the way people cope with grief can vary greatly from person to person. Depending on the type of loss, some people might experience more than one type of grief at various stages throughout the grieving process.
To help yourself and those around you after a significant loss, it’s important to understand the different types of grief and their causes.
Types of Grief
Normal grief is grief that can last anywhere from six months to two years following a loss. It’s typically characterised by various emotions that can present themselves physically or behaviorally and emotionally. Normal grief is the most common type of grief because it can present itself following almost any type of loss.
Anticipatory grief, also known as anticipatory mourning, is a type of grief that occurs when you’re expecting the loss of a loved one. It is especially common when you’re caring for someone terminally ill.
For example, you might anticipate how you’ll react or what your life might look like after they pass away. Living in anticipation of your loved one passion can be challenging as a range of emotions come up. It’s important to be patient as you experience the grief before the loss.
Complicated grief is a type of grief that occurs when a person can’t move on from the death of a loved one. This can be due to many factors, including if the death was sudden or if the person was very close to the deceased. Usually, the symptoms of grief are much more prolonged and intense, preventing you from carrying on with normal daily tasks.
When someone experiences disenfranchised grief, they feel their grief is not validated by society or their friends and family. Examples of disenfranchised grief include affairs, pets or when the loss is seen as small or insignificant. This type of grief can be difficult to deal with because it can be hard to find support from others.
Delayed grief happens when you feel intense longing or sorrow for a loss that occurred a long time ago. This type of grief is common when you’re emotional reaction didn’t happen at the time of loss because of disassociation.
You can experience delayed grief because your mind will block thoughts, emotions and feelings associated with the initial loss until you’re ready to process and work through them.
Secondary loss is the domino effect of subsequent losses that occur when a loved one passes away. For example, when you lose someone, you might also experience a loss of identity, a loss of income or a loss of a relationship.
The compounding grief of these subsequent losses can make the primary loss a lot harder to navigate. If you feel sad about other things you’ve lost, you might be experiencing secondary loss and should talk to a mental health professional.
Distorted grief is a type of grief characterised by abnormal or unhealthy coping mechanisms. This type of grief can cause the person to use alcohol or drugs to cope, engage in self-destructive behaviour, or withdraw from friends and family.
Distorted grief can be difficult to deal with because it can be hard to realise your actions result from grief and break the cycle of unhealthy coping.
Cumulative grief occurs when a person experiences multiple losses in a relatively short period. The combination of losses looks different from person to person. For example, someone might lose a job, home, and pet.
Typically, the losses come one after another without having enough time to process the previous loss.
This type of grief is when someone doesn’t show any outward emotion about the loss. You might also think they show a lack of emotions. Typically, someone experiencing inhibited grief will do things to keep themselves and their minds to avoid dealing with the grief. If the person continues to suppress their emotions, the grief might manifest in physical symptoms.
Traumatic grief is common when someone is trying to process grief with added trauma. The trauma is typically from the cause of the loss type of grief and can include flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety. The combination of coping with the loss and managing symptoms of PTSD can be difficult to navigate and manage.
Absent grief occurs when someone doesn’t show any signs of grief. For example, they might act as if they never experienced the loss or it never happened. This type of grief can happen when there is complete shock or total denial - especially if the loss is completely unexpected.
Collective grief is a type of grief that a group of people experiences together. Common causes of collective grief include terrorist attacks, war, pandemics, shootings and the loss of a public figure. However, there doesn’t need to be a direct connection between the tragedy and the community who experiences the grief.
Abbreviated grief is a genuine but short-lived grief response to a loss. This can be due to many factors, such as if the person is ready to move on or if the death was expected. It can be confusing for people when the process of grieving feels shortened.
Coping with different types of grief
Your journey through the stages of grief will vary depending on the type of grief. Whether you knew it was coming or unexpectedly, dealing with a loss is challenging. So it’s important to recognise that your feelings are completely normal and warranted. If you need help navigating the feelings, there are plenty of grief and bereavement services across Australia.
If you’re ready to start planning your estate after experiencing the loss of a loved one, contact the team at Willed today.