Exploring 10 Common Types of Grief

This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Grief is a universal human experience that often accompanies loss, like the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or a significant life change. While grief is often associated with bereavement, it can manifest in several ways and affect people differently. In this article, we’ll explore grief and take a closer look at 10 different types of grief that people may experience throughout their lives.

What Is Grief? 

Grief is a natural response to loss. It includes a large range of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It’s a complex and deeply personal process that can affect every part of a person’s life, including their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Common symptoms of grief include:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Fatigue
  • Denial
  • Sleep Changes
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Upset Stomach
  • Appetite Changes
  • Hopelessness
  • Difficulty Focusing
  • And More

How grief manifests can depend on the type of grief a person is experiencing.

10 Types Of Grief

Here are 10 of the most common types of grief.

  1. Anticipatory GriefAnticipatory grief occurs before the actual loss, typically when a person is facing the approaching death of a loved one due to terminal illness or old age. It involves preemptive mourning and psychological preparation for the inevitable loss.
  2. Abbreviated Grief – Abbreviated grief is characterized by a brief and intense period of mourning, often seen in situations where the loss is abrupt or unexpected. It may not follow the typical stages of grief and can feel overwhelming and disorienting.
  3. Delayed Grief – Delayed grief refers to a postponed or suppressed response to loss, where the grieving process is significantly delayed or inhibited. It may surface weeks, months, or even years after the initial loss.
  4. Inhibited Grief – Inhibited grief happens when people struggle to express or process their emotions openly. They may suppress their feelings or appear stoic on the surface. However, they may still experience internal turmoil and distress.
  5. Cumulative Grief – Cumulative grief occurs when individuals experience multiple losses over a relatively short period, leading to a compounded sense of sadness, stress, and overwhelm. It can be challenging to mourn each loss fully during ongoing grief.
  6. Collective Grief – Collective grief refers to the shared mourning experienced by a group or community in response to a widespread tragedy or loss, such as natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or pandemics. It can foster a sense of solidarity and collective healing.
  7. Absent Grief – Absent grief occurs when individuals fail to acknowledge or process their emotions surrounding a loss, often due to denial, dissociation, or emotional numbness. They may appear detached or indifferent but may have unresolved grief boiling beneath the surface.
  8. Ambiguous Loss – Ambiguous loss occurs when individuals experience an unclear, undefined, or unresolved loss, such as in cases of missing persons, dementia, or adoption. It creates uncertainty and complexity in the grieving process, as there’s no clear endpoint or closure.
  9. Disenfranchised Grief – Disenfranchised grief happens when a person’s loss isn’t acknowledged or validated by society, which can lead to shame and isolation during the grieving process. One common example is losing a pet. For more information on pet loss and how to cope, check out this resource: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/grief/coping-with-pet-bereavement/.
  10. Sudden Loss – Sudden loss or an unexpected event that results in the abrupt death or disappearance of a loved one. It can shatter a person’s sense of security and stability, leaving them dealing with shock, disbelief, and profound grief.

How To Move Through Grief 

Grief is an individual experience, and no one’s process is identical. It’s important to give yourself time and patience as you navigate the waves of grief. Be sure to reach out for support from those around you, and consider therapy if the grief feels overwhelming or too difficult to deal with on your own.

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