Grief Can Come in Many Forms

Anticipatory Grief

This grief is the response to the knowledge that a change or transition will almost inevitably occur which will bring losses with it.

Some examples may be: diagnosis of an illness or disability; knowledge or fear that a job is to be lost; recognition that a relationship is breaking down and may end in separation and or divorce; moving house; moving school; children will be leaving home; news of war; marriage of children.

Often the changes that are anticipated are not known to others and therefore the normal grief responses are misunderstood by those witnessing them.

Complicated Grief

This grief is not able to be expressed at the time a loss occurs. It is repressed grief. Usually external events and responsibilities disallow the opportunity for the expression of grief. It is put ‘on hold’.

Some examples may be: the grief felt at the death/funeral of a spouse or a divorce when family responsibilities must be attended to, children cared for, and the like; the grief felt at leaving a homeland as experienced by migrants, refugees and asylum seekers when survival in a new land prohibits expression of loss; the grief felt when a baby is stillborn or miscarried and the parent’s grief is minimised by those around them.

Disenfranchised Grief

This grief is felt when the loss is not recognised by others and/or is not acknowledged through any public ritual or ceremony.

Some examples of this may be: when a secret love affair ends; when a baby is relinquished for adoption; when sexual abuse, rape or domestic violence is experienced; when a dream is unrealised; infertility; miscarriage; when teenagers experience the break up of a relationship, and the like.

Ambivilant Grief

This is grief that has positive feelings mixed with painful ones about the loss.

Examples are: a parent of a disabled child who loves them but also grieves for the loss of the dream of the fully abled child. Grieving for a missing person who may return but is not there or someone whose death ends suffering and pain so there is relief as well as grief for the loss of who they were.