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Thursday, September 23, 2010

T3 - Types of Grief, Part 2

We've looked into normal bereavement, anticipatory grief, and unanticipated grief in my Part 1 post here. This week we'll cover Conflicted, Chronic, and Distorted grief.

Conflicted grief is what happens when the relationship with the deceased person was ambivalent, meaning the survivor felt both love and hate. The bereaved might not feel a lot of pain initially, but later can feel a great deal of guilt and sadness over the hate part of their connection. Since grief can happen when an object is lost or a building from our past gets bulldozed, it's important for writers to allow for that grief within the pages of your manuscripts.

Before I got married, I went home and cleaned out my childhood room. I had about 12 bags of trash to throw out...but this trash was stuff I had thought enough of at the time to keep. But as someone grows up, things that meant something in the past might not mean as much as present. Still, I was conflicted about throwing that stuff away.

Even more so was when my husband and I visited the next year and my pastel pink and white room had been painted a different color! I wasn't sure how to feel. It was like a part of me had been painted over without my approval, yet I cognitively knew that my parents had a right to paint that room however they wanted, as it wasn't "mine" anymore.

I'm not sure if this fits, but I can only imagine Frodo from The Lord of the Rings had some conflicted grief about throwing that ring into the fire. On the one hand, he was saving humanity. On the other, he could have dominated humanity with it.

Chronic grief is what happens when the bereaved was totally dependent on the deceased person. They basically can't self-soothe on their own without the person, so they hang on to their grief, as it's the closest they can get to hanging on to the deceased. The loss could be as fresh to them after several years as it was the day it happened. Clearly this is maladaptive, and a professional would have to take into consideration the type of loss. An unanticipated loss will always be more traumatic on the survivors, for example, than an anticipated loss.

Chronic grief could also occur when a parent finds out they are going to have a disabled or developmentally delayed child. Parents can grieve over their child for years, thinking they will never have a "full life" or know certain aspects of life that we think will be denied them due to their condition.

Join me next week as I look Distorted grief and Disenfranchised guilt.

Q4U: Can you think of any cinematic of fictional examples of conflicted or chronic grief?

***Julie Lessman's new release, A Hope Undaunted
is still up for grabs by clicking here!***

Wordle: signature


Miss Sharp said...

Now that you mention it, I think Scarlett O'Hara had a lot of grief in her soul. It was a big part of her being - grief over the south, internalized in her mother, and over Ashley, the relationship that could never be. I wonder how Margaret Mitchell would have handled Scarlett's grief over Melanie had the story continued. Although she was writing purely from instinct and probably didn't think about grief or its psychological role, obviously her instincts were spot-on. Scarlett's character really truly works.

Unknown said...

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Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

miss sharp - i think you are dead on about scarlett. she was definitely grieving her losses, and that grief made her do some crazy things.

and THANK YOU erica for the blog award!

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