Types of Grief: Yes, there’s more than one

If you prefer to listen to your grief support, check out the above podcast where we discuss 10 types of grief in 10 minutes.

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This morning I entered the phrase ‘Types of Grief’ into Google and my search returned a surprising number of results. On the first page of results alone I found 10 different types of grief with 3 subheadings under ‘Complicated Grief’ and I thought to myself, “what the?!?”

In truth, I really only know much about the few major types – ‘Anticipatory Grief’, ‘Complicated Grief’, ‘Disenfranchised Grief’ – and this is coming from someone who spends a lot of time reading and learning about grief. I’m sure most people operate under the assumption that grief is just plain old grief! Who knew there were so many different classifications and titles?

So with this in mind I have created a ‘Types of Grief Glossary’. Kind of like a wiki but less comprehensive and slightly more random. It’s just a reference tool so you can understand the different terms you may encounter as a griever.

You’re welcome!

Normal Grief

Hahahahaha…oh wait, you’re serious. Okay fine let’s talk about ‘Normal Grief’ by first clarifying there is no ‘typical’ or ‘average’. There are no timelines and grief experiences generally vary from one individual to another. ‘Normal Grief’ simply refers to a grief response that falls under an extremely broad umbrella of predictability.

Reactions to a loss can be physical and psychological. It is not uncommon to experience periods of intense distress and feeling such as (but not limited to) the following: longing, crying, dreaming of your loved one, anger, denial, sadness, despair, insomnia, fatigue, guilt, loss of interest, confusion and disorganization, disbelief, inability to concentrate, preoccupation with thoughts of your loved one, fleeting hallucinatory experiences, meaninglessness, withdrawl, avoidance, over-reacting, numbness, relief, sadness, yearning, fear, shame, loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness, emptiness, loss of appetite, weight gain. Right, I just listed every symptom to every disorder that’s ever existed. I’m sorry but grief makes you crazy.

However, ‘Normal Grief’ is marked by movement towards acceptance of the loss and a gradual alleviation of the symptoms, as well as the ability to continue to engage in basic daily activities.

Anticipatory Grief: (See our post on Anticipatory Grief) 

As its name suggests, ‘Anticipatory Grief’ is the reaction to a death you were able to anticipate such as when an individual dies from a long term illness. As soon as you accept and understand someone you love is going to die, you begin grieving.

Grief that occurs preceeding a loss can be confusing, as you may feel conflicted or guilty for experiencing grief reactions about someone who is still here. You may experience anger, loss of emotional control, and helplessness. You may also feel grief over the loss of things other than the individual, such as loss of hopes and dreams for the future and the loss associated with a changing roles and family structures.

‘Anticipatory Grief’ is different than the grief response felt after a death and does not necessarily make the later any easier. However, it can allow those who love the individual to slowly and gradually prepare for and absorb the reality of the loss. Also, for some but not all, it allows for meaningful time spent with the individual lending to a sense of closure and peace.

Complicated Grief

Refers to grief reactions and feelings of loss that are debilitating, long lasting, and/or impair your ability to engage in daily activities. Other types of grief such as ‘Chronic Grief’, ‘Delayed Grief’, and ‘Distorted Grief’ all fall under the blanket of ‘Complicated Grief’.

Although the concept of ‘Complicated Grief’ is well known and generally accepted, it’s not without its detractors. There are some who believe ‘Complicated Grief’ is simply the manifestation of grief reactions combined with other mental disorders such as Depression and Anxiety.

Chronic Grief

Strong grief reactions that do not subside and last over a long period of time. Continually experiencing extreme distress over the loss with no progress towards feeling better or improving functioning.

Delayed Grief

When grief symptoms and reactions aren’t experienced until long after a persons death or a much later time than is typical. The griever, who consciously or subconsciously avoids the reality and pain of the loss, suppresses these reactions.

Distorted Grief

Extreme, intense, or atypical reactions to a loss – odd changes in behavior and self-destructive actions. Anger and hostility towards oneself or others are common.

Cumulative Grief: (See our post on Cumulative Grief) 

When one experiences a second loss while still grieving a first loss.  This is also referred to as “bereavement overload” or “grief overload”.

Prolonged Grief 

(Similar to ‘Chronic Grief’) Grief reactions that are prolonged and intense. The griever is incapacitated by grief and daily function is impaired on a long-term basis. The griever spends much time contemplating the death, longing for reunion, and is unable to adjust to life without the individual.

Exaggerated Grief

An overwhelming intensification of normal grief reactions that may worsen over time. Characterized by extreme and excessive grief reactions possibly to include nightmares, self-destructive behaviors, drug abuse, thoughts of suicide, abnormal fears, and the development or emergence of psychiatric disorders.

Secondary Loss: (Check out our post on Secondary Loss) 

When a loss impacts many areas of one’s life, creating multiple losses stemming from the “primary loss”.  Though it is easy to think our grief is solely the grief of losing the person who died, our grief is also the pain of the other losses caused as a result of this death.

Masked Grief

Grief reactions that impair normal functioning however the individual is unable to recognize these symptoms and behaviors are related to the loss. Symptoms are often masked as either physical symptoms or other maladaptive behaviors.

Disenfranchised Grief: (Check out our blog post here.)

One’s grief is ‘disenfranchised’ when their culture, society, or support group, make them feel their loss and/or grief is invalidated and insignificant. This can occur when the death is stigmatized (suicide, overdose, HIV/AIDS, drunk driving), the relationship is seen as insignificant (ex-spouse, co-worker, miscarriage, pet), the relationship is stigmatized by society (same-sex partner, gang member, partner from an extramarital affair), the loss is not a death (Dementia, Traumatic Brain Injury, Mental Illness, Substance Abuse).

Traumatic Grief 

Normal grief responses experienced in combination with traumatic distress suffered as a result of a loved one dying in a way perceived to be frightening, horrifying, unexpected, violent and/or traumatic. Distress is extreme enough to impair daily functioning.

Collective Grief

Grief felt by a collective group such as a community, society, village, or nation as a result of an event such as a war, natural disaster, terrorist attack, death of a public figure, or any other event leading to mass casualties or national tragedy.

Ambiguous Loss: (See ‘Disenfranchised Grief’)

Losses that lack clarity and can lead to different views of who or what has been lost. Individuals and those around them may question whether a loss has occurred or if this is a loss that should validate deep emotional responses (such as with disenfranchised deaths).

Inhibited Grief 

Occurs when an individual shows no outward signs of grief for an extended period of time. The individual inhibits their grief, eventually leading to physical manifestations and somatic complaints.

Abbreviated Grief 

A short-lived grief response. The grieving process often seems shorter because the role of the deceased is immediately filled by someone/something else*, because there was little attachment to the deceased, and/or the individual is able to accept and integrate the loss quickly due to ‘Anticipatory Grief’.

*So, I was surprised to find the most common explanation for abbreviated grief was due to “replacement of the deceased such as with a remarriage”. What the what? I see what they are getting at and I suppose for a small faction of widows/widowers this could be true, but as a generalization this just seems ridiculous. Getting remarried after the death of a spouse is neither a ‘replacement’ nor the fast track to end your grief.

Absent Grief

This is when the bereaved shows absolutely no signs of grief and acts as though nothing has happened. Characterized by complete shock or denial, especially in the face of a sudden loss. This becomes concerning when it goes on for an extended period of time. This does not account for differences in how we grieve and it’s important to note that just because you can’t tell someone is grieving doesn’t mean they aren’t.

Did we miss a ‘Type’? Leave us a comment.

Do you like us? We like you. Let’s keep a good thing going, stay connected by subscribing to ‘What’s Your Grief’.

March 28, 2017

35 responses on "Types of Grief: Yes, there's more than one"

  1. Hi,
    I’m not sure where to begin so…. I am an only child. I’m extremely close with my mom. Always have been. My real dad died in 2004 aftr a 5 yr off/ on battle w/ Cancer. I took a leave of absence to care for him.He was in hospice care for 2 days. I blame myself for leaving to go home, get clothes, shower and do a few housework chores while he had company, because he died while I was gone. My step dad, was my dad#2. He had cancer,& while i believe he knew he didn’t say anything, He was in and out of the hospital for only 8 days then died. While he was in the hospital, my mom said she needed a little “air” & went into the hallway & collapsed. They couldn’t revive her, & was rushed downstairs to the ER. Thankfully, somehow, she took a shallow breath & slowly improved.She was in a room next to my stepdad. I spent 36 hrs going from room to room, all the while trying to reach my son. For 2 days before my stepdad died, I had been unable to reach my son who was extremely close to my parents. He was also addicted to drugs, but had been in rehab & seemed to be doing well. Passing each drug test given. )Upon my stepdads death, I sent my husband home to see if he could find my son. I became the “adult” as when my read dad died. I was also hyper scared for my mom to be out of my sight should she collapse again. As I was on the phone making funeral arrangements for my stepdad, (my mom is also hard of hearing) I rec’vd a phone call. I was told to come home NOW. I put on a mask, and spoke lowly so mom wouldn’t hear and made My husband tell me what was wrong. My son was dead. on the back porch of our house. (Apparently when my son couldn’t take the heartache of knowing my stepdad wasn’t going to make it, he relapsed, and the people he went off with gave him or let him do to much, and when my son realized something wasn’t right, that he was in distress, he told them to take him to the ER and they could drive off, that he would walk in. They didn’t. They took him to our house,and dumped him off like a bag of trash..) So, without flinching, crying, or anything, I told my mom something was wrong with my son, and I had to go. That i would call her as soon as I could. My aunt and uncle walked out to the car with me, and i told them, but made them swear not to say a word. I drove 45 mins home, pulled in the drive, and saw police, EMT’s, and crime scene tape. I also saw my 20 yr old son’s body on the porch, covered with a sheet. After i got to the local hospital, I had called my mom, and told her to come to the hospital. I had arrived at the hospital, explained it to the ER staff, and had my mom brought to the back, where I had to tell her her grandson was dead.I lost my dad and my son on the same day about 14 hrs apart. They had their funerals together. I have so many issues from all of this, yet, I can’t find help, or find out what is wrong with me. I hear my dad call my name or i jump at a noise. Lights trigger headaches, i cant get the image out of my head, i have panic attacks and break out in a sweat and shake.. Nightmares, and on and on. I can not find someone who will listen and explain to me what is wrong with me.. I hurt, i grind my teeth so bad I break them, and yet through it all, I still do not allow myself to get upset in front of my mom for fear she will collapse and die.I blame myself for my son. i replay images and wonder how long he laid there and did he call for me? What type of grief category do I fit in? Sorry to have gone on and on, i just wanted to give some info to better help to find where i’m at grief wise and go from there..Thank you..

    • Hey Peggy, after hearing everything as well as the symptoms you are experiencing, my first question is – have you spoken to a therapist who specializes in trauma? I know that you are grieving, but it also sounds like you’ve been through quite a few potentially traumatic experiences and your responses sound similar to those of people who may be experiencing something like PTSD. I of course only know such a limited amount about you, but you said that you can’t find anyone to listen to you or explain some of the symptoms you are having and I would hope that a therapist, especially one who specializes in trauma, would be able to shed at least a little light on what you are going through.

  2. Hi my name is Melissa on May 28, 2017, just under four months ago I found my husband who had hanged himself from the rafters of our camp house porch.. After the initial screaming and crying out to God It seems like I went into shock for about 2-3 weeks. I was even able to speak at his memorial. Anyone who knows me , knows it took a great amount of strength to do that. You see I had already been diagnosed with and chronic depression and anxiety disorder years before any of this took place. During this phase of shock I was able to take care of necessary paper work such life insurance, etc.. After I received the life insurance and 401k checks I was able to pay off my house and my vehicle, taking those stresses away. Unfortunately he was our sole provider so I lost my medical insurance and could not afford to pay over $600 for the cobra insurance . It was then things started to hit me. My 54 year old husband is gone. I have no job, no insurance and no soulmate. It seems I’ve been coming apart at the seams ever since. Flashbacks of finding him flood my mind. I can’t stand to see a rope of any kind. I cant stand thunderstorms( we were having bad weather that night). Every time lighting flashes at night I see his face, his limp body and feel his cold skin. All I can hear is the 911 operator telling me not to cut him down, not to cover him up, and not to touch him until the police completed there investigation. Because of the weather the police units go stuck and I had to sit alone with my husbands body for over thirty minutes until they arrived. After they took their pictures, gathered information and questioned me., they finally cut him down and proceeded to leave. I had to ask them if I could cover him up. My children had over an hour drive to get there but they weren’t allowed to go down the road until the emergency vehicles got unstuck. So once again I was left alone with my husbands cold lifeless body. I said my goodbyes and I held him until my children were finally able to reach me by walking over 2 miles through the mud and rain. That is when I lost it. My boys shouldn’t have had to see this. Thank God I was able to cover him up so they didn’t have to see what is etched into my brain. I have trouble going to sleep because I replay those events over and over. I’m ridden with guilt because I was right inside the house when it happened. We had a great day so none of it makes senses. Over the course of the last month I’ve become increasingly irritable, I don’t really want to be around anyone and I just want to numb the excruciating pain that I feel. I promised my children I would never take my own life this way and that’s a promise I’m desperately trying to keep. I take an antidepressant, two different anxiety pills and a sleeping pill along with my other prescriptions for high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid disease. I increasingly feel the depression taking hold. Some days I sleep all day just so I don’t have to feel the pain. I can’t seem to find joy in anything. I’ve tried to keep my feelings to myself except when I talk to my sister. I don’t want my kids to see me fall apart. The hardest part is being irritable around my grand children so I find myself isolating from them. I honestly feel like I’m losing my mind and I don’t know what to do. I went to my psychiatrist and he prescribed me an allergy pill to help me fall asleep. That didn’t help at all. My primary doctor took me off of that and put me on the second anxiety medication that does help a lot with the sleep. I just can’t concentrate on anything. One moment I’m ok the next I’m falling apart. I don’t know if I have a mixture of some of these types of depression, some form of PTSD or just overwhelming grief but I feel like I am in a crisis mode and don’t know how to handle it.

  3. i (28) lost my grandmother (92) on 1st week of Nov 2016 which we were quite close as we spend weekends together. Shortly after, i lost my brother (32) on 4th week of Nov 2016.
    i couldnt breakdown or grieve because i am the main pillar of support for my parent and have to handle every bits of the funeral.
    Now from time to time, i breakdown by myself crying but i cant really cry out loud as i fear it might stress my parents or my friends.
    I am either losing sleep or sleep too much (weekends) and didnt feel like working at all. Feels like i am out of function. And recently, when people talk to me, i dont realize or i didnt hear them at all… Am i in a mess ? what should i do..

  4. today is 22 months since my husband died. I fall into more than one category here I guess I’m a bigger mess than that I think I am.

  5. I am scheduled to see one next week. Thank you for those reassuring words, Elenore.

  6. I recently was part of a three-person team of family who made the agonizing decision to take my father-in-law off of life support. He was a strong, handsome, virile, robust man of 80 and walked into the hospital with pneumonia and never left. My husband and I are both only children and my mother-in-law was an emotional wreck. There were no other siblings to confer with (read: share burden with), he wasn’t my father and I knew, at the time, I was the one who was, by default, who would be looked at as the most objective. I agreed 100% with my MIL and husband’s decision, but now, a month later, i find myself quieter, either unable to sleep or sleeping a lot, unmotivated to do anything…even cook, although I do, uninterested in doing anything. I am professor and have this summer “off” so thank God I don’t have to show up for work, but maybe that too is unhealthy. I think human beings have a sympathy quotient and I am seeing the eyes of my loved ones glaze over when I try to talk with them about this. It is frightening to most, I understand: raw and ugly, but I am scared I will never recover. I am 30 years sober, so taking a diazopen or “a glass of wine before bed” is not an option for me. I admit I did smoke some pot recently (after over 30 years; pot never worked even when I wasn’t sober) and had a MASSIVE anxiety attack, so that’s out. I am 57 and think to myself that I somehow should “know” how to do this grief thing, but I am absolutely devastated as is my husband who is chipping away recently on drugs to “get him through.” It’s so messed up. I feel lonely, angry, lethargic, afraid.

    • Hey Susan, I can relate to the thought that you should be able to “know how to do grief”…I think a lot of people can. Grief is one experience that can knock the most even keeled person off balance. You have the dual stress of grieving your father-in-law and coping with the unexpected decision you were all forced to make, and providing support to a family that you love. Your shoes are not easy to walk in. It sounds like you feel like you’re at a bit of a loss as to how to cope (again, not uncommon). I can imagine you don’t feel that you can turn to your husband and his family to speak about your grief and support systems often fail when it comes to these types of experiences. For that reason I wonder, are you someone who might consider speaking with a counselor? Sometimes having an objective and nonjudgmental ear can go a long way in helping a person to organize and sort through their innermost thoughts.

  7. Hi Kim,
    Sorry for the loss of your mom. Everyone is different, therefore everyone handles and copes with grief very differently. There are no steadfast tracks that say either way anything. You did say you have a dissociative disorder, if your taking any kind of medication for this, it can also have an effect on your emotions. Just don’t expect anything from yourself. Go with the flow and be gentle with yourself, sometimes it’s just to hard to process when you lose a loved one.
    Hope you have lots of loved ones and friends near you during this time. Don’t be afraid to share stories of the good times. Sometimes we laugh so hard we will have a little cry too.. It’s all natural.
    Hope my thoughts are able to help you.
    With Peace and Light,
    Mardelle

  8. My mother just died on May 1st 2016. I expected to be dealing with hard grief at this point, but… I’m mostly feeling weirdly ok. There have been moments of tears, but no cracking open into full bereavement. People keep assuming that I’m experiencing all of this stuff that I’m not. I do have a dissociative disorder. I always have a delayed reaction to emotional things. I did have some depressive very slow non functioning days last week. But right now I seem to be functioning mostly normally. Just a small amount of concentration issues. I’m not purposefully repressing or suppressing my emotions, they just don’t seem to be there. I am a little alarmed at my lack of brokenness. Any thoughts please?

    • Hey Kim,

      We have a lot of expectations about what grief will look like, and many times our experience (or the experience of our family and friends) don’t match our expectations. I’m not sure how your mother died, but if it was at all expected you might find some clarity in this post on anticipatory grief. Also, it is not at all uncommon to feel a little numb after someone dies. Here is a post on that. I think it’s also important to reflect on if and how having dissociative disorder might impact how you experience a loss of this type.

      I’m sorry about your mother’s death. In many ways you will grieve her loss forever and if you know you are prone to your emotions coming out little by little, it would make sense that you will experience you grief in different ways in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

      Sincerely,
      Eleanor

  9. What type of grief do I have?

    My mom passed away on May 3rd 2016. It was sudden but also expected. She was fighting ovarian cancer for a year. I remained optimistic that she might win. Until in April she became bedridden then lost appatite, her potassium level shot up and albumin at a critical level of 1.5. She behaved find when the ambulance took her away, but a day later she was falling apart, then the following morning was dying. It all happened so fast. It was acute kidney failure that killed her.

    During the day I was with her, I was calm. I spoke things of light, did my best to make dad, mom and I feel better. I stayed with her until her last breath and closed her eyes. I experience random episodes of bawling/heartfelt crying, then quickly resuming as if nothing happened. I experience occassional hallucinations as if she’s still alive doing normal things like when we’re shopping I see her there, when in the ladies room, she’s there, when in gardening centers, she’s there, etc. That’s when I break down. Then I can resume an almost normal life until another trigger comes along.

    I loved her more than anything. So did dad. Why am I so calm? It doesn’t seem right. I should be completely incapacitated. I thought I’d be beyond depressed. I loved her so much and I miss her so much. Why am I calm most of the time? I feel confused, in shock she’s really gone, but in a way I knew it’d happen. Ovarian Cancer is a silent killer and is fatal because women catch it late. Prior to her death, I cried every night, stopped writing my book and enjoyed life less. Now she’s gone, I cry less and getting back to living. What’s wrong with me? Am I relieved of her suffering? She was so miserable. Now she’s no longer in pain, but I miss her terribly, but I’m calm?! Why?

    • Hi Samantha,
      I’m truly sorry for the loss of your mom. It’s a huge loss in your life for sure. I understand it well, my mom has passed as well. I just want to say I think that since it is so recent of her passing, it’s possible you are still in a state of shock. In this state it’s possible to feel nothing. I have had this experience myself at different times with grief. I refer to it as a delayed state of grieving, even sometimes a numbness.The brain and heart need to sync up and deal with the loss at the same time. When you have micro moments of sadness and calm and these sightings, it’s all natural. When in your time your ready to deal with your mom’s death, you will do it your way. There is no right or wrong ways to express or experience, it will be moments of release, much like waves washing on the shore. Some moments will be calm with sunshine, other times will be rough waves washing angrily upon the shore with dark skies and tears. Know that you were so loved by your mom and that she will always be with you in spirit. Every time you think of your mom, she is thinking of you too and you are together forever. I hope this helps you in some way.
      Mardelle

    • Hey Samantha,

      I want to echo Mardelle’s words and say that your loss is so recent that very few responses would shock me. I have a few posts I want to point out to you, they may or may not be helpful depending on how you’re feeling both now and in the future.

      1. Feeling Nothing During Grief: The disorienting experience of emotional numbness
      2. Grief Makes You Crazy
      3. Grieving Before a Death: Understanding Anticipatory Grief

      Hopefully one of these helps.

      Eleanor

  10. I have grief that I’ve not seen discussed anywhere. I have had it all my life. It is a kind of grief that comes from experiences that one has not had i.e, things that are normal for other people. I don’t have a husband, I don’t have children, and growing up, we were poor and didn’t have much. There must be some kind of name for this type of grief.

  11. I really enjoyed your article. I was wondering if whatsyourgrief.com has any article on how grief just doesn’t have to be related to death and how it can be related to loss from and illness or a friend or a job? I felt like this was comprehensive but that it missed some information about how these types of grief can be caused loss in general not necessarily death.

  12. My father died when I was 18 months old. I am now 24. Throughout my life I have grieved this loss at different times. I struggle with the fact that I miss someone that I dont have any memories of. Now at 24 I feel I am grieving a lot. I am drawn to learning more about who he was, wishing I could hear his voice, wishing so much for a father. I wonder what category this would be. It is a strange situation, and I often feel very guilty for being sad about losing someone I dont even know, when my mother and sister were older and lost someone that they actually remember.

  13. Is there a type of grief associated with being upset over the death of someone who died before you were born (for example, a child’s grandfather dies before he or she is born, and the child eventually grows up feeling as if they have missed out on meeting that relative)?

  14. I lost my brother in 2002 and it’s been 13 years and I’m still grieving his lost. He was murdered at the age of 21. He was my big brother and we was extremely close 3 years apart so we did everything together growing up. It seems though like my grieving is getting worse. I really miss him. I’m married with 2 beautiful kids. It feels sad that he’s not here to be apart of their lives.

  15. I think I have traumatic/complicated Grief. Soon to be 28 years now since the love of my life and soul mate just newlyweds celebrated 2 years being married, when we were hit by 2 Cars while walking. My husband was killed instantly. I was in and out of hospitals for over a year and sustained a spinal cord injury.
    Eye witnesses said my husband through me out of the way of the 1st car, most likely saving my life. I remarried a few years later and had 3 beautiful children. The marriage ended 8 years later.

    To this day I have dreams of him talking with me. I feel his presence in spirit. I still cry adding to my river of tears.

    Just in the last 2 years I feel more grief is still coming forward. It’s unreal. When will it ever end?

  16. i hv anticipatary grief dat i jst find out the last 2 days.

  17. I have a question I just recently lost my mother a week ago at the age of 82. She was my world and I miss her but i have not been able to cry….I was at a very spiritual level with her and miss her lots…but cant understand why im not emotional? and dont miss her….but I have her in my heart all the time. Is something wrong with me?

    • Angel,

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with you. Had she been sick or had you been anticipating her death for a little while before she died? Often people begin to grieve and make peace with a person’s death before they are gone, so when they the emotions can feel a little less intense. On the opposite end of this spectrum would be if someone is just struggling so much that they are in shock or are intentionally avoiding their feelings. This doesn’t sound like what you’ve described though?

      Eleanor

      Eleanor

  18. I believe I’m grieving and I’m trying to put a name to it. I’m grieving all the years gone by. My kids are grown, life will never be as it was. I’m grieving all the past Christmases, Easters , halloweens, everything when my kids were little and life was simple and fun. I’m grieving years gone by and never getting them back. How do I deal with it?

    • Hi Pearl- one of the common emotions that comes with grief is yearning- yearning to be with the person we lost, yearning for the past and better times, etc. It sounds like that may be a large component of how you are feeling.

      This can be hard to cope with, but in my mind there are two things you can do. First is to keep those memories alive by reminiscing with your children and family. At current holiday events you may want to start a tradition of sharing a memory from a past holiday, etc.

      The second is practicing the concept of mindfulness and being in the present moment. Sometimes we get so focused on the past that we miss the beauty and joy in the present and the new memories we are creating. There is a post about that here: http://www.whatsyourgrief.com/mindfulness-and-grief/

      Another good way to practice focusing on the present is in seeking gratitude. You can find lots of gratitude posts (and even a podcast) on our site, but this will get you started: http://www.whatsyourgrief.com/journaling-gratitude/

  19. What kind of grief am I suffering, because I am! I recently turned 74 and am in excellent physical health. However I have lost mental acuity and have surrendered my drivers license. after just getting the truck of my dreams. I have a host of family and friends lining up to help me, and I’m grateful, but I feel like I’m slipping into a depression. I’ve been a widow for nearly 5 years after a 48.5 year marriage. So what is my “category”?

  20. I think I have Complicated Grief. I can’t/won’t sing anymore without crying.

  21. Absolutely- this type of grief is often intertwined with regret, but we certainly grieve ‘what might have been’. In this case one might question how one can grieve the loss of something they never had, so it may be easier to think of it as grieving the loss of potential. At some point you had potential (real or perceived) to do a certain degree, be in a certain relationship, have a certain life. You then grieve when that potential is gone. It is a different type off loss, but a loss none the less that should be acknowledged and processed in order to adjust and move forward.

  22. Is there a grief associated with “what might have been” but never eventuated. E.g. never had a chance to do that degree, should have asked that person out but didn’t, realising too late that one could have applied and got that job?

    • I feel this situation you speak of falls into more regret or disappointment for missed opportunities to advance one’s self. In my experience. Grief is deep aching loss that can and sometimes does last a lifetime, it is an unexplainable pain that has no cure!

    • I would say yes. The loss of dreams, of hopes, of a life we thought might be can be profound. This is often also a part of grieving a tangible loss or death — the future we imagined with or for that person, our shared hopes and dreams. This can be regret, but also grief, a deep and painful letting go and acknowledging with sorrow the reality that is at hand.

  23. I read something a little while ago on cumulative grief, where people have experienced loss after loss. Do you have any info on that?

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