Types of Grief and Loss

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Anne Allen, CSW, LMFT, Clinic Director, Outpatient Therapist  Coping with grief and loss is a tough feat. You might be overwhelmed with unexpected emotions that make it difficult to think clearly or get a good night’s sleep.  Everyone experiences grief differently. However, what you may not know is that there are several types of grief and loss that can affect the grieving process.  For more information on grief and loss, visit the grief and loss specialty page.  

What is Grief? 

Grief is a powerful emotion that is in response to a loss. For example, the loss can include the loss of a loved one, your health, a pet, or the loss of a relationship or friendship. Essentially, grief can form whenever we experience the loss of something we have an emotional attachment to.   Grief can manifest in many ways and affect your physical well-being as well. Insomnia, sleeping too much, and changes in appetite can occur.  
Grief is often experienced as one of the most difficult of our emotions. It visits everyone a little differently. I like to remind people that there is no one right way to experience grief. - Anne Allen, Outpatient Therapist 
While there are many types of grief, we are going to focus on three of them in this article.  Related: How Mental Health Affects Physical Health

Anticipatory Grief 

Anticipatory grief plays out exactly how the name suggests. The grief starts to develop before the actual loss of what is important to you. If you have a grandparent ill suddenly in a nursing home, for example, or you are aware of a job loss coming up, you may begin the grieving process before the loss has taken place.   Anticipatory grief can bring about anger and not wanting to accept that a loss is on the horizon. However, this type of grief also opens the door for saying goodbyes and preparing (as much as you can or are able to) for an upcoming loss.  Anne Allen shares a message that may be helpful if you're struggling with grief and loss.
I heard a quote from the Marvel comic series Wanda Vision, that has stuck with me. In this series, a character named Vision shares a thought about grief to someone who has had many losses. He says, "But what is grief if not love persevering." How beautiful it is to remember that when we remember those we have lost, we are actually remembering and feeling that love in real-time.

Disenfranchised Grief 

Disenfranchised grief can happen when your loss is: 
  • Devalued 
  • Stigmatized 
  • Cannot be openly mourned 
In disenfranchised grief, others may minimize whatever you are grieving whether it’s an animal, career change, or a friendship. As a result, you may suppress your emotions due to a lack of support and acceptance. As a result, you might find it difficult to express yourself and move forward. Related: Ways to Move Forward When You Feel Stuck

Complicated Grief 

Lastly, complicated grief is displayed when the pain of experiencing a loss does not fade with time. While the pain from a loss might never completely go away, it should reduce over time. If it does not, it may be a sign of complicated grief, which can negatively affect your mental health.   If you’re experiencing complicated grief and loss, it’s critical to get support so you can take the necessary steps toward healing.   Related: How Does Abuse Affect Mental Health?

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

No matter what type of grief and loss you are experiencing, you don’t have to go through it alone. Left unchecked, grief can manifest into unhealthy coping skills and lead to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and even substance use disorder. Therapy is a safe place to work through your feelings and process what’s happening in your life. If you like to make an appointment, call 1-844-NYSTROM or fill out a simple form online  Related:  How to Help a Loved One With Depression

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