The Many Kinds of Grief

The Many Kinds of Grief

Grief is something we undergo when someone dies, a loved one moves away, or one goes through a traumatic experience. It is an emotion generated by a loss and characterized by sorrow and/or distress. Grief is a very personal and unique experience, whose etiology is apparent in both life and death experiences.

No two people will grieve in the same way, and most people grieve in their own way and time. Some of us grieve after the death of a loved one:
Some will grieve for a small number of days and then just stop;
Some will grieve for what seems like years and never stop;
Some will grieve for a short period, but will do so time and again based upon situations that arise with life, such as:

1. Weddings
2. Graduations
3. Family events
4. Traumatic events
5. Emotional events
6. Death

Some women grieve at the changes that life takes them through, i.e., menopause, grieving that they are getting older and entering another phase of their lives.
A divorce may be considered a grieving situation. Each spouse grieves the loss of the marriage, or the loss of their mutual friends, or the loss of their house or the loss of their belongings which now have to be split into his and hers. Moreover, if there are children involved, there is the loss of the everyday seeing of the kids by one of the spouses, as well as the pictures and all the things that go along with living with the family.

Consider the couple grieving the death of a child. One parent moves toward others, finding solace in connections and healing in the open expression of emotional distress. The other parent, instead moves toward introspection, is reserved about sharing feelings, and finds the resumption of everyday life most helpful. Despite the commonalities of their loss, each grieves differently because each experiences the loss in a unique way.

While we all have general ideas about how grieving should look, many times it may not look that way, and if it doesn’t, it does not mean the person is not grieving. They are just not doing it in the way that we are used to or understand. How many times do we see a person laughing and having fun ten days after a loved one died, and we think, “what kind of person is that? Imagine, their loved one died, and they are already having fun!” Or, we see a female starting to go on dates right after her spouse has died, and we think, “what has gotten into that girl”? Her husband has just died and she is already going out with guys!” Or conversely, after a divorce, we try to arrange a date for the man, and he says “no,” that he is not ready, since he is still grieving for his marriage. I recently met with a former soldier who fought in Iraq, and he was still grieving the “loss” of his former wife who was sleeping around with everyone. He hasn’t gone out in two years and was still in love with his former spouse.

While we all look at grieving from many perspectives, at some point we all have to move on. If you have difficulty “moving on” please speak with a friend or professional counselor.

Howard Chusid, Ed.D., LMHC, NCC has a doctorate in Counseling Psychology, is an experienced Mental Health Counselor and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family and Circuit Civil Mediator and a Qualified Arbitrator. He is trained in EMDR and deals with Post Traumatic Stress Disease (PTSD) and Grief Therapy. He is also a Board Certified Professional Counselor, Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Master Professional Career Counselor and a member of the National Career Development Association, American Counseling Association, American Psychotherapy Association and the American Psychological Association.

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