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Types, Stages and Consequences of Grief

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Nearly every person will experience grief in their lifetime. Grief is a natural response to loss that can take on many forms, depending on the person and their experiences, or the type of loss. Grief can affect a person in many different ways, such as emotionally, behaviorally, physically, and on a cognitive level. Grief can be triggered by a variety of scenarios, such as the loss of a person or relationship, or the loss of a personal dream. No matter what loss a person experiences, every person will experience grief differently. Sometimes this grief can lead to a disorder if not treated properly, which can greatly impact a person’s wellbeing. It is important to understand the different types of grief and their impacts so you can recognize when you or a loved one may need help.

There are different types of grief that a person can feel, and this depends on the way the loss occurs. Anticipatory grief is the feeling of grief before a loss occurs. The loss of a person is typically due to an illness such as cancer. This type of grief involves more anger and the loss of emotional control. Some people find themselves conflicted between holding on and letting go, and brings on a feeling of uneasiness. Ambiguous grief occurs after a loss with little to no closure or understanding. This can delay a person’s process of grieving and often leads to unresolved grief. Lastly, unanticipated grief occurs after an unexpected or sudden loss. People typically undergo five stages of grief during this time.

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The first stage is denial, where the person feels shocked or numb. This stage is the mind’s defense mechanism against a large rush of overwhelming people. People often pull away from friends and family during this time. The second stage is anger, where the person is faced with the pain of their loss, they feel frustrated and helpless. This leads to the third stage; bargaining. During this stage, the person begins to dwell on what they could have done to prevent the loss, and they may attempt to make deals with a higher power to ease the pain of the loss. The fourth stage is depression, where a deep sadness sets in and the person understands the loss and its effect on their life. This stage may include crying, sleep issues, and a decreased appetite. The person may also feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely. The fifth and final stage is acceptance. This occurs when the person is able to accept that the loss has occurred, and can move forward in life. Not everyone who deals with a loss will experience all five stages, and you don’t need to go through each stage in order to find acceptance, as every person experiences grief differently. Every person experiences grief in different ways, this can be due to a person’s previous experiences, the nature of the loss, and because every person is different. Grief can affect a person in many different ways.

Grief is a natural process but can have consequences that affect every aspect of your wellbeing. Physical effects can occur after experiencing grief for a long period of time. These can include weight loss due to a lack of appetite, inability to concentrate, nightmares, insomnia, and fatigue. Psychological impacts can differ depending on the person and will often have a big impact on your mental health. These effects can range greatly, but some include; increased feelings of depression and anxiety, feelings of guilt or shame, mood swings, panic attacks and anxiety, and mood swings. No matter how long you are suffering for, these effects can have a huge impact on a person if they are not addressed or treated properly. Dealing with grief is a natural process that happens to anyone going through a traumatic or sorrowing event of a loss. But when people do not deal with their symptoms for an extended period of time, they can develop Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD), or Complicated Grief Disorder. The American Psychological Association (APA) estimates that 15 percent of people grieving are at risk of developing Complicated Grief Disorder. This is more severe than typical grief, as it is characterized by changes in personal beliefs, feelings of meaninglessness, searching and yearning for the deceased, and shifts in personal relationships. This disorder can affect some people more than others, and is more commonly associated with sudden or traumatic death. Prolonged Grief Disorder occurs when a person is stuck in a maladaptive state for at least six months. It is important to seek treatment during these times. If grief is not properly dealt with it can be destructive to one’s well being.

Grief can be caused by many different kinds of loss, and each person will experience this grief differently. The impacts that grief has on a person can impact many different aspects of their life. If someone does not adapt to the loss, they become at risk for developing a potential grief disorder. It is important to know how to see if someone is struggling with grief so you can offer support, and it is just as important for you to know if you may need to see someone for help. Even though one may feel alone in this world after experiencing a loss, they should know that there are people there to help them through this difficult time, and they should know that they are never alone.

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