This is not a new concept. Grief is one of the hardest things we go through in life. There are several types of grief, and the main ones we will walk through in this article are: ambiguous grief, anticipatory grief, grief & loss, and complicated grief. These are just a few of many experiences of grief, and if you take anything away from this blog post, please know- you are not alone.
Ambiguous grief is when a definitive end did not happen. An example of this would be if you are talking to a nice person, you are hitting it off, going on dates, spending time together, and the one day- bam! No response from them ever again. You might have just been ghosted. There are a lot of questions that come with ambiguous loss- wondering why the end or transition wasn't definitive. This can come in many forms.
Anticipatory grief is defined as when we are grieving the anticipated loss of a loved one due to illness or known impending death. This can also cover situations aside from death, such as the impending end of a relationship or impactful life transition.
Grief & Loss (Conventional grief)
"Normal" grief is generally called conventional grief- but since that sounds weird we will just call it grief & loss. This type of grief is the most broad, and also the main form of grief you think of when this topic comes up. As Michael Scott describes in The Office:
Hopefully this dry humor is a good example of the misconceptions that we somehow go through the 5 stages of grief in a perfectly linear order. Grief is not linear. It is an axis of the world we start living on when we experience a loss.
Our culture has failed us when it comes to healthy grief. We are taught that there is an expiration date on grieving. This is tied to the American view that our productivity is somehow more important than our mental stability. We are constantly pushed to the edge of productivity at the expense of our mental health. With grief, the narrative does not change. For example, there is no formal business process if someone is experiencing a difficult loss (or transition, and this is not to say all loss is not difficult) and are unable to work due to their emotional distress, to take time off. Some companies do offer mental health days- but as that suggests, they are only a select amount of days rather than a plan of action.
Complicated grief is a very taboo label in my opinion. The definition basically describes grief, but lasting longer than "normal". It may also bring lasting impactful symptoms such as lack of interest in daily things, isolation, inability to accept the loss, and several other painful symptoms.
All Grief Sucks. So what now?
Maybe it is time to check in with a mental health professional. Even if you are not ready to talk about the loss you are experiencing, having an outside person to talk to about it can provide some comforts over time. Sometimes we don't know what we need until we experience it. If you are looking for a grief counselor, please feel free to check in with me! I am a Grief Specialist, and work with people through many types of grief. No two stories of grief or loss are the same.
You can also check in with your friends and family. Talk about the loss with them when you feel comfortable. See if the support of your own community is healing, or if therapy still seems like a helpful relationship to have. If you are feeling like talking to them about the loss is too difficult, there are groups and support services for family & friends grief counseling out there. Maybe the breakup you went through is making you feel shameful, that is okay! Whatever it is you are grieving, finding supportive people and spaces to process it is impactful on your healing journey.
You can also check in with yourself. Our prompted journal Grief F*cking Sucks is available on Lulu.com and Amazon. This journal goes through prompts and mindfulness tools to support your process through grieving. Whether a friend ghosted you, you found out a pet is sick, or a loved one has died, there are prompts for various grieving stories.
Finally, you can find your peace- it is just a matter of time and support. Take some time to figure out which of these support tools, if not all, work for your healing journey. We never fully heal from grief, but we do learn how to live life again. Whatever you decide works for you, just know- you are not alone!
Photos by Christin Hume, Canva, & Simone