Grief is most commonly understood as a reaction to a death. However, death is just one of the many different types of losses that trigger grief. Here are five types of grief that people often experience that are not related to death:
1. Loss of Identity
This type of grief involves the loss of an important role or affiliation in life. Some examples of this include:
Mourning the loss of the role of parent or caregiver when becoming an “empty nester” after children move out and become independent.
Going through a divorce can elicit grief over the loss of the role or identity as a spouse.
Grief surrounding the loss of professional role and identity can occur following job loss or retirement.
The loss of identity means grieving one’s sense of self. People derive much of their self-esteem and sense of purpose from their roles in life. Grieving involves finding other sources of purpose and meaning and integrating the loss into a new personal narrative.
Buddha is often credited with saying, “holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Variations of this quote can be found across all cultures and highlights the widely accepted fact that holding on to resentment, blame and anger slowly erodes our health and well-being.
People often believe that in order to forgive, the wrongdoer must earn forgiveness by apologizing and taking responsibility for what they have done. We fear that letting go of the anger will somehow absolve the other person of all of the wrongs that they have committed. We hold onto grudges out of a sense of duty and obligation to hold them accountable and pursue justice.
Amy Sobelman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW #74242) with over a decade of experience treating adults, adolescents, and children suffering from addictions, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression and trauma. She has worked in residential, outpatient, and private practice settings.