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TYPES OF GRIEF

We might not recognize it at first, but there are many types of grief.

cups of coffee being pulled by a hand
Grief can come in many different forms.

In an article written by Karen Roldan and published by usurnsonline.com, several different types of grief are outlined. A few of these are: 

-Normal Grief (or Uncomplicated Grief) 

-Complicated Grief (or Abnormal Grief) 

-Traumatic Grief 

-Anticipatory Grief 

-Masked Grief 

-Inhibited Grief

-Collective Grief 

-Cumulative Grief 

-Prolonged Grief 

-Abbreviated Grief 

-Delayed Grief


We can grieve for many things: 

-The loss of a loved one, be it family of friend 

-Broken relationship 

-Childhood trauma 

-Loss of a job 

-Loss of a pet 

-Infertility


Karen Roldan defines these types of grief as follows:

  • Normal Grief is the emotional distress that accompanies a trauma, such as death or other loss. This is what people typically mean when they talk about “grieving” or “mourning.”

  • Complicated Grief is grief that worsens over time. It begins as normal grief, but as time passes it deepens and stagnates. This is a disabling and often life-altering form of grief. These painful feelings of grief do not alleviate over time. It is generally suggested that if you are dealing with complicated grief, you seek the assistance of a professional counselor.

  • Traumatic grief is the grief that you may feel after the sudden or unexpected loss of a loved one. The bereaved person is coping with two burdens: the traumatic death of a loved one and the grief that goes along with it.

  • Anticipatory Grief is the grief you feel when you are waiting for your loved on to pass. You are grieving the impending loss.

  • When you experience masked grief, you may not even be aware that symptoms such as anger or impulsive behavior are related to a loss. You may be – often subconsciously – trying to mask the grief you are feeling at the loss of someone. You may mask your grief in order to save face or appear stronger.

  • Traumatic grief is the grief that you may feel after the sudden or unexpected loss of a loved one.

  • Inhibited Grief can be identified if you display physical ailments instead of grief. Your feelings of grief may be too painful so your body manifests them in other ways. This type of grief can manifest in the form of chronic headaches, stomach pains, or even muscle and body aches. Whether subconscious or not, with inhibited grief you may be preventing yourself from facing the actual process of grieving.

  • Collective Grief is when grief affects a whole community, city, country, or even the world. People feel a collective a sense of hopelessness, loss, and despair when a large-scale or sensational tragedy strikes. The COVID-19 pandemic would be considered a source of collective grief. A natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, the terrorist attacks of 9-11, and any act of war or any headline-making tragedy can result in collective grief. Cumulative Grief is when a current loss may bring up feelings of a loss you have suffered in the past. It can happen to you when you experience losses in close succession. This includes the loss of a relationship on top of losing a job, or moving away from family and then learning of a loved one’s health diagnosis.

  • Prolonged Grief is when normal grief lasts for months, years or longer. It may start out as “typical” grief and just never get better. You can feel stuck in your grief and unable to cope with your daily life. This type of grief often involves a longing for and a preoccupation with your deceased loved one and is different from depression. If you are suffering from prolonged grief, you may gravitate towards things that remind you of the loved one that has died, or you may go toward the other extreme and avoid all memories of your loved one.

  • Abbreviated Grief is a short lived but bona fide grief. Maybe you weren’t too attached to the person that passed, but the grief was still felt. Could you be “replacing” your lost loved one with something else? For example, you may have lost a pet and purchased a new one immediately.

  • Delayed Grief is when your grief may be postponed for a matter of weeks, months and sometimes years. Your grief symptoms may take a while to catch up to you. Some examples of why this may happen might include losing a child when you still have more children to care for; losing a parent when you have to care for your other parent; or any loss where you feel that it is your responsibility to be the “strong” one.


If you are unsure of what type(s) of grief you may be dealing with, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Am I making progress in my grief process?

2. Do I feel any better from yesterday/last week/month?

3. Am I making future plans?


If you answer “no” to any of these questions, it might be helpful for you to seek professional help.

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