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Is Grief Only Associated With Death? 4 Types of Grief You May Experience in Life

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For many, the word grief is often associated with death. While it’s normal and natural to grieve the passing of a loved one, grief is not always exclusive to death.

Grief is also about loss, and loss comes in many different forms. Some losses are easy to recognize, while others are harder to comprehend and understand.

For example, some people grieve the loss of a job or relationship, while others may feel it during a natural disaster. 

No matter the cause of grief, be patient with yourself. Grief is a profoundly personal experience that we journey through in our own unique way.

Below, we explore the various types of grief. While not a comprehensive list, we hope this helps you put a name to the discomfort you’re currently feeling in your life.

1. Grieving the unknown.

Anticipatory grief is a feeling we get when the future is uncertain. When this happens, it’s easy to let your mind wander.

If someone you care for is diagnosed with a terminal illness, you may start to fear the weight and pain of their death before it actually happens. Instead of focusing on the time you have left with your loved one, you may wonder when “it” is going to happen.

While the unknown of what’s ahead makes your grief far more acute, try to live in the present.

2. Grieving social isolation.

As humans, we’re innately social creatures who thrive off interactions with others. Yet, as we age, many of us are alone more often than when we were younger, leaving us vulnerable to social isolation.

Seniors who find themselves unexpectedly alone due to the death of a spouse or partner, separation from close family members or friends, loss of mobility or even lack of transportation, can be at risk for isolation.

As a result, you may grieve the loss of social connection and interaction.

3. Grieving normalcy.

When a loved one passes, we often long for what used to be considered “normal” life with them. We grieve the small moments, like pouring coffee in the morning or playing cards in the evening.

But we can also grieve normalcy when our lives are uprooted, in situations like a job loss, an unexpected move or a divorce.

What you considered normal may feel suddenly disrupted, resulting in feelings of anger, shock or disbelief. These are all pieces of your identity, and it is okay to grieve the loss of that normalcy.

4. Grieving a life change.

Sticking to a schedule is one way people can feel like they have some control over the world around them. But when a sudden change occurs—either good or bad—it’s normal to grieve.

For seniors, transitions like retirement disrupt daily routines. You might long for the days once considered mundane at the office. You may miss the opportunity to tackle a new project that forces you to think creatively or strategically. Or, you may miss the ability to converse with others over lunch.

Alternatively, some seniors grieve the loss of their independence. Perhaps, your health is slowly declining, and you’re struggling to hear or see, or you’re discussing senior living options with family. It could even be that you’re grieving the younger, healthier version of yourself.

It’s common to grieve these changes, as they disrupt what daily life looks like for you.

Get Access to More Grief-Related Resources

The grieving process can often feel long and lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Gently pay attention to your feelings, and find ways to share your thoughts with close family members and friends—even from afar. For more information on grief, plus healthy tips to help you heal, we encourage you to subscribe to our weekly grief newsletter, A Journey Towards Healing.  

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