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The different types of grief

By Camille Baillargeon, Content Writer

If you've just lost a loved one, you're likely to experience a strong emotional reaction, known as grief. It's the natural process of coming to terms with the pain caused by the loss of a loved one. But did you know that there are several distinct types of grief? Every mourner will experience this period in a unique way, but there are certain commonalities in the effects felt.

Intuitive grief

This type of grief is synonymous with what might be considered "conventional grief". The bereaved is hit by several waves of emotions such as sadness, denial or anger. They take the time to express their grief, to externalize and experience emotions. Grief can also paralyze the bereaved person for some time (a few days, for example), preventing him or her from moving forward in the process. Individuals affected by this type of grief generally need a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on. 

Instrumental mourning

As the name suggests, in this case, grief is instrumentalized towards action. The bereaved person's reaction is more rational than emotional (though this is not to say that the individual has no emotions - they are simply not externalized). The energy expended in this type of mourning is redirected towards a problem-solving approach and defined actions: household chores, management of the deceased's possessions, organization or distraction through movement. The first two types mentioned exist on a continuum, but represent extremes. Most people will experience a mixture of instrumental and intuitive grief.

Anticipatory grief (or white grief)

This type of grief particularly affects the caregivers or loved ones of a person living with a degenerative disease, such as Alzheimer's. The mourning begins before the death, as the person loses more and more cognitive or physical ability before finally disappearing. Anticipatory mourning can be combined with abbreviated mourning, a shortened version of conventional mourning. Since the process has already begun or even been completed before the death of the loved one, the reaction may seem minimized.

Invisible grief (or ambiguous grief)

Ambiguous grief refers to any type of grief that is generally poorly recognized in society. For example, whether it's perinatal bereavement in early pregnancy, the loss of a pet, the loss of an important relationship or a job, etc., people are less likely to regard it as a real and important bereavement. It is necessary to take it seriously and to seek relief in all these situations, even if they are considered less valid in our society. It is indeed grief.

Whatever type of grief you are going through, Urgel Bourgie / Athos can support you in your efforts. In collaboration with Réflexions du Cœur, we offer you personalized, gentle support. Call us at 514-735-2025 to discuss our services with an advisor.