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Thursday, October 7, 2010

T3 - Types of Grief, Part 4

This week will be the end of a 4-week series on the types of grief. We'll finish up with Absent grief, Delayed grief, and Inhibited grief.

(Part One on Uncomplicated, Anticipatory and Unanticipated grief can be accessed here. Part Two on Conflicted and Chronic grief can be accessed here. Part Three on Distorted and Disenfranchised grief can be accessed here.) 


Absent grief is what it sounds like: grief that hasn't shown up yet where you would expect it to. However, since grief can show up after the triggering event--sometimes years later--it's hard to determine. It could also be a period of no signs of grief after a major bereavement period where the grieving was "normal." Just all of a sudden they aren't grieving anymore.

It can often be mistaken for the first stage in the grieving process, which is usually shock. Shock is completely normal in a person experiencing grief, but if it goes on an overly long period of time, then absent grief might be at play.

Delayed grief is often used by people in survival mode. People in active combat military zones might delay grieving fallen comrades because they are too concerned about their own safety. Grieving spouses will often put off their grief for the sake of their children. Another example would be if someone were in a major accident where other people were killed, yet they needed intensive health care themselves and are unable to truly grieve while they wait on their physical healing. The person is in survival mode, and that's not a bad thing...but it can be.

Grief can be put off for so long that when it finally does see the light of day, the griever won't remember what their enormous grief reaction stems from. The reaction is over and above what would normally be expected of them due to something small that set them off - something not going right or a bad day. Out of proportion reactions can be a sign of delayed grief.

Inhibited grief is very similar to delayed grief, but it goes on for much longer, and as a result, expresses itself in much more serious ways when it finally does come to surface. It manifests itself physically in the person, usually through headaches, ulcers, migraines, stomach aches and a myriad of other health problems as the body tries to find some way of coping. Usually doctor's visits wind up inconclusive, or the diagnosis is that the ulcer is "stress-related." Doctors would be wise to ask about recent or not-so-recent loss in the patient's life, because grief doesn't take a rain check.

Next week we'll start another series on the facets of grief. How will this help authors? Your characters who experience loss on the page will need to have aspects of each of the dimensions to make their grief as realistic as possible. Stay tuned!

Q4U: Any of you writers out there have a character or two who might have physical symptoms that could be explained by delayed or inhibited grief?

**If you are in need of a Beta reader, Erica from Hypothetically Speaking is hosting a Beta Party Blogfest for that very purpose! Check it out here."**

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4 comments:

Diane said...

This post makes me think about a grief I experienced in my life. Interesting.

Melissa Gill said...

Bless you Jeannie! I am just now writing about a character who has just witnessed the death of a close friend, but he's still in enormous jeopardy. I wasn't sure I was doing the right thing by moving on with the action of the story, and not fully addressing his grief, but now I know what to do.
Thank you so much. This is such a big help.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

thanks for stopping by, diane!

melissa - i'd say you are right on track. your character is trying to survive...so he will have to delay that grief. i would just give him a chance to grieve after he's out of danger, maybe toward the end of the book?

so glad this post helped!

Erica said...

Hi!
Thanks for linking my Beta Party BlogFest!

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Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.