12 Weeks of Peace
Week 2: Types of Grief
Why does my experience seem so different from theirs? Is it normal that my grief feels different to how I was expecting? Why am I feeling this specific way?
If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you may be surprised to know that there are many different kinds of grief. This week we will examine some of the most common forms of grief, including what causes them and ways to deal with them. Some will also include resources on ways to reach out for help. Every resource listed is freely available. If you think there is even a possibility one of them would be of value to you, do not hesitate to take advantage of them.
Day 8: Knowledge Is Power
If you’ve never before lost someone close to you, the grief may feel overwhelming and confusing. But if you learn to understand what is happening and gain some idea of what to expect, grief can become manageable. Many people are surprised to learn there are different kinds of grief.
Day 9: Normal Grief
Normal Grief is marked by movement towards acceptance of the loss and a gradual alleviation of the symptoms, along with the ability to perform daily activities. Although it may not feel like it, grief should ultimately be a healing experience. It is the process of accepting that someone important in your life is gone, experiencing the accompanying emotions, and learning how to live with the loss.
Day 10: Delayed Grief
Delayed Grief occurs when the normal grief symptoms and reactions are not experienced until long after the death occurs. The griever represses these reactions to (consciously or subconsciously) avoid the pain of the loss. While it’s true that everyone experiences grief in different times, eventually the loss has to be dealt with. The only way out is through.
Day 11: Anticipatory Grief
Anticipatory Grief is the reaction to a death you were able to see coming, such as when a loved one dies from a long-term illness. It’s not uncommon to feel guilty for beginning to grieve someone who is still here, or helplessness at the fact that you see the end coming and cannot stop it. Try to focus on the opportunity you have to say goodbye to this person and to avoid the extreme shock of a sudden death. However, many people make the mistake of thinking anticipatory grief makes the loss easier. The fact is that no matter how much you anticipate the loss, no one is prepared for when it actually happens. When experiencing this kind of grief, try following the lead of the person who is dying in choosing whether to discuss the illness and impending death. Take advantage of the time you have to do, say, and share what you need to in an intimate and positive way.
Day 12: Secondary Loss
Secondary Loss is often overlooked, but our grief is not contained to the person we lost. We are impacted by the pain of others who are also dealing with the death. The best thing to do in these instances is to draw comfort from the people around you. Lean on them on your bad days, and let them do the same with you. It can be helpful to know how loved the individual was, and that you are not alone.
Day 13: Disenfranchised Grief
Disenfranchised Grief occurs when one’s culture, society, or support group makes someone feel that their loss is insignificant (an ex-spouse, pet, co-worker, etc.) or invalid (result of HIV/AIDS, gang affiliations, or drunk driving). What’s so heartbreaking about such grief is feeling like you have no one to turn to because others find your grief unacceptable, making you feel isolated. This is an instance when reaching out will be a lifesaver. Find support groups or online forums or any way of contacting others who are dealing with a loss similar to yours. People out there are connecting, you just have to find them. They are the best resource on how to handle outside reactions to your particular loss. Do not let your surroundings leave you on your own.
If you are experiencing disenfranchised grief, there are many organizations and groups that can be of great comfort and help to you.
Don’t let fear or judgement keep you from getting the help you need and deserve.
GRASP (Grief Recovery After A Substance Passing) provides resources and support groups for families and individuals who have lost a loved one to substance abuse or addiction.
Survivors of Suicide Loss reaches out to and supports people who have lost a loved one to suicide.
The Recollectors is support group for those who lost a parent to AIDS.
The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement if you’re mourning the loss of your special furry friend.
The Light Beyond offers support for those who have lost someone to drunk driving.
Day 14: Traumatic and Complicated Grief
Traumatic Grief is normal grief responses that are complicated by the traumatic stress of a loved one dying in an unexpected and violent/frightening way. Distress is extreme enough to impair daily functioning.
Complicated Grief encompasses prolonged grief, chronic grief, exaggerated grief, and distorted grief. These are intense and debilitating feelings of grief that do not fade over time, and there is no progress towards improvement or feeling better. This can include odd changes in behavior or self-destructive behavior, extreme distress, and impaired ability to perform daily functions. This is when grief becomes unhealthy.
If you are experiencing traumatic or complicated grief, it may not be possible for you to handle it alone. Reach out to a friend, family member, or trained professional for guidance and support.