Types of Grief

Elisabeth Kubler Ross - 5 Stages of Grief

It has been discovered that there are five stages of grief as a response to a death or unexpected negative event. These can be summarised as :

  1. Denial - a conscious or unconscious refusal to accepts facts or reality relating to the situation at hand. It is a defense mechanism and some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with a traumatic change in which they wish they could ignore.
  2. Anger - People dealing with emotional upset can become with themselves over what has happened and/or with others especially those close to them.
  3. Bargaining- Typically the bargaining stage for people facing death involves attempting to bargain with whatever God or ideal the person believe in for less serious traumatic experiences people can bargain to seek a compromise.
  4. Depression - Also referred to as preparatory grieving. In a way it's the dress rehearsal or the practice run for the 'aftermath' although this stage means different things depending on whom it involves. It's a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It's natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality.
  5. Acceptance - This stage definitely varies according to the person's situation, although broadly it is an indication that there is some emotional detachment and objectivity. People dying can enter this stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must necessarily pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the grief.

Disenfranchised Grief

Is often very difficult for one to deal with, grief is “disenfranchised” when their culture or society make them feel their loss/grief is insignificant or invalid. This can revolve around stigma such as death: suicide, overdose, HIV, drunk driving. Disenfranchised grief can also occur around relationships when it is is seen as insignificant  for example the loss of a pet.It can also happen when the loss is not a death for example when someone develops dementia or a substance addiction.

Ambiguous Loss

Ambiguous loss is often a loss that occurs without closure or understanding.This kind of loss leaves a person searching for answers as there is no verification of death or no certainty that the person will come back or return to the way they used to be. Ambiguous loss can occur in situations such as a mother whose son is missing in action, or a friend who is still alive but is lost to us nonetheless or the family dealing with a loved one suffering from severe dementia. Breaking up with someone or having kids that leave the home can also cause ambiguous loss. Ambiguous loss freezes the grief process and prevents closure, paralyzing couple and family functioning.  It is essential to attempt to identify this loss in the early stages as it can be often hard to identify and may lead to a spiral towards more mental health issues.