Grief comes in many forms, and some studies indicate that most adults experience a high rate of “cumulative bereavement,” which is the experience of multiple grief events close together. This is especially true as people grow older.
Learning how to process grief doesn’t prevent these events from happening, but it can help you adjust to the loss you feel.
Types of Grief
Most grief is caused by a sense of loss, but you may not have thought about the types of grief. Grief comes in many different packages, and not all grief is due to the death of a loved one.
Anticipatory grief is the sadness you feel when you anticipate a loss coming. Some losses are sudden and unexpected. Other losses come after some notice.
An example of anticipatory grief is the feeling of bereavement you experience when a loved one develops a terminal illness. The person is still around, but knowing that they will soon be gone brings grief.
Delayed grief happens when the sadness and emotional reaction occur weeks, months, or years after the loss. There are many reasons someone may experience delayed grief. People living in a war zone, for example, may have to focus on survival and therefore not allow themselves to feel grief at losing friends and loved ones.
Complicated or Prolonged Grief
Complicated grief, also known as prolonged grief, is what people experience when the grief they feel persists beyond what is considered healthy and is so pervasive that it continues to interfere with their lives. Of course, this can be a subjective experience.
If you feel like you’re unable to cope with grief in a way that’s healthy, or like the grief you experience is lasting too long, it may be a good idea to see a therapist or counselor for complicated grief.
There are other forms of grief, but these are some of the most common.
How to Process Grief When Grieving Is Complicated
If you experience complicated grief, this means that you’re struggling to function due to the loss you feel. You might experience physical symptoms of grief for years after the loss, like stomach upset, headaches, body aches, and weight loss or gain.
If your grief is too overwhelming, and you find yourself unable to function, grief counseling can help you to understand what’s happening.
How to Support a Grieving Loved One
If your loved one is grieving due to a recent loss, there are many ways you can help. Assisting with funeral arrangements, or helping your loved one with chores and other tasks, can help.
Many cultures have specific mourning rituals that grieving friends and family participate in, like the Irish wake, or Jewish sitting Shiva. Participating in these rituals is a way of supporting your bereaved loved one, but just like funeral etiquette, it’s important to know what is expected of you before you join in.
Grief Is Difficult, but Natural
Grief can be terrible, but it is a natural part of life that almost everyone experiences at least once. Most grief fades with time, but it is important to remember that if your grief takes over your life, there is help out there to help you learn how to process grief properly.
Check out more articles about emotional and mental health!