In this brief series of blog posts focused on the many types of grief, we will write a short description of each, as it can be quite useful to understand the many ways in which grief can show up in our experience.
Normal grief, or what is sometimes called uncomplicated grief, is sometimes described as our ability to move toward the acceptance of loss. While the level of grief symptoms are often extremely intense, that initial degree of emotion gradually decreases, as it is meant to when when grieving takes a more "normal" course. The person experiencing this type of grief more or less has the ability to engage in daily functioning, and the basic requirements of their lives, such as resuming work and caring for themselves and family, are able to continue. This is often not the case when we experience other types of grief.
Typically this type of grief is less challenging than other types, as the experience of grief and loss is more simple. Certainly not easy, but more simple and straight-forward, as in without much of the complexity that other types of grief can bring with them.
Normal grief certainly has no timeline and people experiencing this type of grief often experience a wide range of feelings or behaviors that are common after a loss such as distress or discomfort in the body, feelings of guilt, hostility toward others or even one's self, preoccupation with imagery of the deceased, or the inability to function as one had before the loss. While all of these symptoms are normal and often profound, over a period of time (which varies for everyone and can never be predicted), with social supports most people will gradually experience a reduction of these emotions, bodily sensations, and behaviors.
Symptoms of normal grief often include:
- Sobbing or crying/tearfulness
- Sleep disturbances, like difficulty falling asleep, getting too much or too little sleep, or waking up during the middle of the night
- A lack of energy that is fairly persistant
- Experiencing a general lethargy or apathy about life
- Changes in appetite, including eating less or more than usual. Sometimes emotional or binge eating accompanies normal grief
- A withdrawal from social interactions and relationships that one used to experience and enjoy
- Difficulty concentrating, even on important tasks
- A questioning of spiritual or religious beliefs, career choices, or goals/purpose of life
- Emotions, including anger, guilt, loneliness, depression, emptiness, and sadness
Example of grief behaviors that are still considered to be normal grieving include:
- A parent who visits the their child's grave every morning
- A person who is not ready to part with their deceased parent's belongings
- Avoiding a location that reminds someone of a personal memory with the deceased
- A person who still experiences intense emotion even years after the loss of a loved one