Virtuous Circle Counselling

types of grief after a loss

10 Different Types Of Grief Experiences After A Loss

Grief is the process of accepting that something or someone in your life has been lost. Everyone grieves differently, and grief can look very different depending on what you’re grieving over. It is important to note that every stage of grief looks completely different for different people. You may feel like a novice when it comes to grief or have some knowledge from watching other people grieve, however it is important to remember that everyone grieves in unique ways and everyone’s pain is unique.

Grief is a normal and healthy process, but one that many people are unfamiliar with in its various forms. It is often difficult to recognize your own grief or know how to handle it. You might think you don’t have time to grieve because you have other responsibilities and tasks to complete. You may not want others to see you as weak and it will take time for your friends and family to understand what you’ve been through. So how do you know if you’re in the midst of grief? 

Read below to learn about 10 of the different types of grief, and assess if you may be suffering from any of them and requiring the services of a grief counsellor in Calgary.

1. “Normal” Grief

What is “normal” when it comes to grieving? While we can all agree that grief is normal, how long is enough, and how long is too much? These are not easy things to pinpoint and there are no set guidelines. Behavioural change, physical manifestations, life circumstance modification, and profound shifts in the expression of beliefs and values can each present themselves as normal or natural responses to the death of a loved one or a loss, depending on the person experiencing it.

2. Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief is a very real, sometimes painful feeling you get when preparing to lose someone close to you. You may feel this way if you have a significant health condition and you know your time on earth is short. Anticipatory grief may also be present if the person you are caring for is not close to death but the situation has such an impact on the person causing them stress and discomfort that they know it could lead to their death one day.

3. Complicated Grief

Complicated grief is the reaction to a significant loss or traumatic event that cannot be assimilated into daily life. These events may include the sudden unexpected death of a child, spouse, parent, or close friend, or a violent personal assault. Complicated grief can severely disrupt one’s ability to function and interact with others. People experiencing complicated grief often feel detached from themselves, their families, and friends. They may report feelings of emptiness and thoughts of suicide.

4. Delayed Grief

Delayed grief is most commonly experienced in the form of depression, but delayed grief can take many different forms and often occurs when an individual experiences a major life transition or adjustment. Delayed grief may interfere with some of the natural stages of grieving, eventually causing more damage to your emotional health than the loss itself because of the delayed reactions.

5. Absent Grief

Absent grief is a term that can be used to describe when someone does not acknowledge the loss of a loved one, and shows no signs of grief after a death. While this term is more commonly used in bereavement counselling, absent grief can happen outside of that context. In general, absent grief happens when someone has experienced complete shock or denial about the death. Sometimes, it can take several months or even years for this shock or denial to fade and for the individual to start coping with grief.

6. Chronic Grief

Chronic grief is a type of grief that is profound, long-lasting, and leaves you feeling as though the loss can never be replaced. It’s often experienced as a dull ache or emptiness. You may experience chronic grief through feelings of hopelessness, a sense of disbelief that the loss is real, avoidance of any situation that may remind someone of the loss, or loss of meaning and value in a belief system. Grieving goes through stages from denial to acceptance. Chronic grief becomes severe clinical depression and can be accompanied with suicidal or self-harming thoughts.

7. Cumulative Grief

Cumulative grief, also known as complex grief, can occur when multiple losses are experienced within a short period of time. Acute grief may or may not follow these losses and you feel overwhelmed because you don’t have time to properly grieve one loss before experiencing the next. Losing a loved one is hard enough, but adding multiple grievous experiences can impact your ability to function normally and heal at an optimal pace.

8. Inhibited Grief

Inhibited Grief is grief which does not show itself to others. The grief itself can be present but suppressed so that the individual does not put it on display. This is usually done by the sufferer out of a want to protect their significant other or friend from having to deal with the complications of death. They feel as though they could get angry, frustrated, and upset if they allowed themselves to grieve publicly. There are very few people who can handle having a concealed grief, it can often lead to health problems and mental instability.

9. Distorted Grief

Distorted grief is a psychological coping mechanism used by some survivors of trauma who, disregarding the real circumstances, ignore their own role in the trauma and instead blame themselves for the traumatic event as well as for their future pain. This misconception of self-blame often leads to pathogenic guilt and anger. This can present with extreme feelings of guilt or anger, noticeable changes in behaviour, hostility towards a particular person or group, plus other self-destructive behaviours.

10. Disenfranchised Grief

In basic terms, disenfranchised grief describes the feelings a person gets when their loss is not acknowledged by others around them. This can happen in any type of relationship or social setting. The loss experienced by a person and their reactions to it may be very similar in nature, regardless of whether it is classified as disenfranchised grief or another form of grief such as depression, complicated grief (also known as prolonged grief disorder), or other types of complicated grief.

It’s easy to become emotional and discouraged when you’re grieving someone or something. It’s important to realize that everyone grieves differently and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Recognizing the signs of your own unique grief can help you to heal, but you should seek the help of a professional grief counsellor in Calgary if you feel like your grief is overwhelming

Share This Article


We at Virtuous Circle Counselling acknowledge Moh’kinstsis, the lands where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, in what we currently call Calgary. We acknowledge that we are visitors on Moh’kinsstis and acknowledge the Blackfoot are those who named this area as Moh’kinsstis. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we recognize the ancestral territories, cultures, and oral practices of the Blackfoot people, the Îyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Dene people of the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.