Types of Grief: How to Understand and Support a Loved One Grieving
Grief is an emotional reaction to loss, but there are types of grief within this broader category that can present on physical, social and behavioral levels.
For people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life, grief is something everyone will encounter at least once. While grief is an emotional response to a loss, these responses can look different for us all. Whether mourning the loss of a parent, child, friend, or acquaintance, types of grief will vary.
Although coping with grief can be a difficult situation for many, there are ways to help you come to terms with the death of a loved one. This article can help by identifying the many different types of grief one might encounter.
For more information on how to understand and support a grieving loved one, read on for our basic guide.
1. Traumatic Grief
One of the most common types of grief that one may experience is traumatic grief. While this might be a common experience, it can also be complicated and confusing for many. Traumatic grief presents itself after the unexpected loss of a loved one.
Whether this grief comes after an accident or sudden illness, loved ones left behind may suffer from a wide variety of feelings. These feelings could range from guilt to confusion to denial. Some may find themselves asking questions like “Was there anything I could’ve done?” or “Did they know I loved them?”
These sudden feelings of grief are overwhelming and uncomfortable for all different kinds of people. One of the best ways to deal with this type of grief is to allow the feelings to come. While some may feel tempted to ignore and suppress them, it’s best to deal with the loss in an open and honest way.
Some other steps for processing trauma are to connect with someone else who can listen and keep up with a daily routine. These steps can help you mourn in a healthy way and get back to a sense of normalcy.
2. Anticipatory Grief
If you’ve ever had a loved one pass away after a prolonged terminal illness, you’ve likely experienced anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief comes after you’ve expected a loved one’s death for a long period of time and you are anticipating the loss. While this is a different experience than traumatic grief, it is still just as difficult for many.
This form of grief presents itself before the death of a loved one, and may also show itself in people anticipating their own death. Elderly people or those with terminal illnesses often experience this feeling. However, this is not as discussed as other forms of grief.
During this time, many people will choose to get their affairs in order and spend time with close friends and family if possible. This may temporarily distract from the loss that is to come.
It’s important to know that there is no one size fits all way to cope with the anticipation of a loss. Symptoms of anticipatory grief present themselves in many ways, like feelings of anxiety, anger, or guilt. Seeking help from a loved one or professional can help sort through any unresolved issues or thoughts.
3. Masked Grief
Another type of grief that may be difficult to understand and cope with is masked grief. Masked grief presents itself when the person denies their feelings after a difficult loss. This may be a defense mechanism for many who are afraid of experiencing grief to its fullest extent.
One example of this is often seen in parental grief. When a parent loses a child or spouse, they may mask their feelings to protect their other children or family members. While they may think that hiding their sadness helps others, it may actually be causing more harm.
You may also see masked grief more in men or leadership figures, as society may make them feel weak for showing sadness. It’s important to know that grieving does not equate to weakness and that it’s a necessary process to become stronger.
If you know someone who may be experiencing masked grief, consider reaching out to them. Without pressuring them, you might encourage them to talk about their feelings or open up to them about your own. By opening up to these people, you’re showing them that it’s okay to be vulnerable.
If you are going through a stage of masked grief, consider reaching out to a professional or close friend for help. These people can teach you ways to express yourself more openly and heal after a difficult loss.
4. Prolonged Grief
There is no set timeline for when we may conclude our grieving process. However, prolonged grief is an intense form of grief that lasts longer than one year. Studies show that about seven percent of adults will also develop a condition called “complicated grief.”
Prolonged grief may cause people to feel like they have not only lost a loved one, but also a part of their own identity. This form of grief can change the way these people express themselves or build relationships with others. It’s also common for those experiencing prolonged grief to feel no desire to move forward or heal.
For many, healing after a loss can feel like a betrayal to their loved one. It’s crucial to know the signs and symptoms of people who experience prolonged loss. This form of grief can cause a reduced will to take part in previously enjoyed activities or make new connections.
If someone you know is experiencing prolonged grief, consider inviting them to participate in new hobbies or meet new people. While it may take some convincing, this may help them find a new meaning in their life after loss.
Providing Support Through Different Types of Grief
While grief is one of the most difficult experiences we may go through, it’s an inevitable part of the human experience. The first step in providing support to those coping with a loss is learning about the many different types of grief. By knowing the signs and symptoms of these grieving processes, you can provide helpful guidance to your loved ones.
If you’ve lost someone or are in need of cremation services, we can help. Contact us today for any and all inquiries about our cremation services and arrangements. Our staff of trained professionals can help you navigate this difficult time.