What You Should Know About the Unique Types of Grief

Every person who loses a loved one is going to experience a unique form of grief. The pain and loss you experience depends completely on your relationship to the deceased, the circumstances surrounding their death, your stage in life, and countless other factors. This is also why your personal approach to grief often changes depending on what loss you’re experiencing at a given time.

All that being said, no matter how or who you are grieving, there is a “typical” process that one travels through to adapt to their loss. Sometimes called the “Stages of Grief” the grief process includes denial, anger, anxiety, bargaining, and depression in the early stages, with acceptance, hope, and healing marking the readjustment to your new way of living. However, some losses warrant a more unique or complicated response. These complicated forms of grief may require more effort to work through, which is why it’s important to be able to properly identify them – whether for your own grief journey or to help others in your life. Keep reading to learn more.

Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief is very common among people who have chronically ill or terminally ill loved ones. This grief is unique, in that it begins before your loved one passes away. It is the expectation of the loss that can be very consuming and provoke early feelings of grief. If you’re struggling with anticipatory grief, you may hear phrases such as “enjoy the time you have left” or “take things one day at a time” from loved ones trying to comfort you, while in reality these phrases can be very hurtful. It’s important to know that experiencing grief before the loss is completely normal. It is not preemptive and does not mean you’re not grateful for the time you have left with your loved one. Anticipatory grief is just another element of the very complicated experience that comes with caring for and loving someone who is nearing their final days.

Complicated Grief

Complicated grief can manifest in a few different ways. However, the two most common forms of complicated grief are chronic and delayed. As their names imply, chronic grief is defined as intense grief that lasts for an extended period time – long beyond the scope of a typical grief experience. Delayed grief also entails a longer grief experience, as sufferers experience minor grief effects at first, only to have very intense and consuming grief later on. Both chronic and delayed grief are considered complicated because they’re characterized by a complete inability to carry on with your daily tasks and can prevent you from moving forward to the final stages of healing. If you are suffering from complicated grief, it’s often advised that you seek professional assistance in moving forward through your grief journey.

Cumulative & Secondary Grief

Cumulative grief occurs when you lose several loved ones within a short period of time. Similarly, secondary loss also involves working through multiple losses at once, though in the form of ideas attached to your loved one, such as financial security, celebrating anniversaries, etc. For more information on these forms of grief, please click here.

Disenfranchised & Distorted Grief

Disenfranchised grief can occur if your family, society, or your culture tell you that your grief is not valid or warranted. Distorted grief can be similar, as it can occur when you experience an extremely tragic or sudden loss that elicits a wide variety of intense emotions. Disenfranchised and/or distorted grief occur often among those who lose a loved one to suicide, overdose, or other sensitive situations. Feelings of guilt, unworthiness, and isolation are common among those suffering from these forms of grief. It is often helpful for those experiencing disenfranchised and distorted grief to seek professional assistance in progressing along their grief journey in a healthy way.  

Above all, remember that there is no right way to grieve, and there is no such thing as a “normal” grief journey. The types listed here are a few of the most common, but there are countless different reactions and feelings you may experience. Some people may experience multiple forms of grief, and yet some people may experience no grief at all (read more about Absent Grief here). Whatever you’re going through, just remember to be patient with yourself and know that we are here to help you however we can.

Learn more about the Catholic Cemeteries Association’s grief support resources (including support groups) here.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

What Matters Most to Us

We’ve reached the time of year when our management team at the Catholic Cemeteries Association must make decisions regarding our annual budget. This entails identifying everything we need to support our 19 cemeteries, 60+ buildings, 35+ miles of road, and over 160 employees.


Needless to say, this is a lot to consider, and it is my job as Director to pay attention to the numbers to make sure we not only have enough funds to cover our current operations, but to ensure we generate enough income to care for the past and prepare for the future. As a self-sustaining entity, this income is generated directly through the sale of places of interment and products such as granite memorials and vaults.


Now, you may be wondering why I’m choosing to talk about the financial side of our ministry. I want you to know that, despite our financial responsibilities, we at the CCA never lose sight of what is most important: serving you.


We know that every sale is the direct result of the loss of a loved one. This is one of the reasons why I take time to walk our cemeteries, to remember those who were so treasured and loved here on earth.


While sales allow us to carry on our ministry, it is the connection we feel with each family that matters most. We at the CCA take our calling to serve families seriously and personally. We never lose sight of the trust placed in us to care for your dearly departed loved ones, and please know that we will continue to work hard every day in order to keep your trust in the years to come.

God bless,

Andrej Lah

August 2020

Grieving in the Age of Social Media

Mourning the loss of a loved one is already a very difficult and sensitive time. Today’s age of social media makes grieving even more complicated, as social media has transformed the way we interact with each other. On one hand, social media can be a very helpful resource when you are experiencing grief, as it introduces new ways to connect and reach out for help; on the other hand, social media can negatively influence your grief journey, as it may provoke unhealthy feelings of isolation or comparison. For some people, it may be best to take a break from social media during the first stages of grief to avoid these conflicting effects entirely. However, if you decide to continue using social media while grieving, it’s important to make yourself aware of how it may impact your grief journey. Please continue reading to learn more. 

The Positives

Connection

Social media can provide an accessible and broad network of people to connect with while mourning the loss of a loved one. It can also be helpful since it provides a virtual way of speaking with people. It’s common to prefer more alone time after losing someone close to you. Social media is a great way to reach out when you want, while still having the ability to turn off your device and seek personal solace whenever necessary.  

Online Support Groups

Social media offers a platform for you to connect with other people who are currently mourning. Online support groups can be helpful, as they allow you to talk with people who have gone through similar losses and experiences. Searching for groups online opens up even more opportunities, as you may be able to find specific types of support that fit your situation. Support groups can be a wonderful way to receive the compassion and understanding you need to help you heal. Even more so, it can be very comforting to know that you aren’t the only one experiencing certain feelings or types of grief.

 Unique Ways to Memorialize Your Loved One

Social platforms offer unique ways to remember our loved ones. Acknowledging your loss directly allows room for healing and growth along your grief journey. Posting a picture, video, scripture passage, or a simple post about your loved one may not only help you work through your grief, but it also opens the opportunity for others in your network to do the same.

The Negatives

Loneliness

While social media does offer an alternative way to communicate with people, it’s important to remember that nothing can truly replace the comfort felt when talking to someone face to face. In some cases, spending too much time online can make you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world. Be sure to watch the amount of time you spend online, and try to seek in-person forms of support when possible.

Public Responses

It’s no secret that, while social media may offer positivity and encouragement at times, it can serve some negative, hurtful, or disparaging posts as well. It’s best to stay away from any toxic support groups or pages that bring you more turmoil than peace. In regard to your personal posts, it’s important to realize certain friends or relatives may not be sensitive to your loss. You may find that some people will leave hurtful comments. Maybe you expected more people to write a message, while only a few chose to do so. While on social media, you should look out for yourself and be ready to remove yourself from the platform if negativity begins to overwhelm you.

Unhealthy Comparison

Another drawback to using social media is our human nature to compare ourselves to others. You may find that your family and friends are posting about your loved one online. If it appears a family member is mourning the loss more deeply than you, this may elicit feelings of guilt. Alternatively, if you feel someone is not taking the loss seriously enough, this could spark feelings of anger or hurt. It’s important to remember that every loss is extremely unique to the individual, so comparing yourself to others is not healthy. Instead of looking at others, focus on your personal grief journey.

Final Thoughts

Above all, if you use social media while grieving you should be honest with yourself and ask: What do I hope to gain from this experience? Why am I writing this post and what do I expect once it’s published? Is this platform helping me along my grief journey or hindering me from moving forward? Taking time to reflect on these questions will help ensure you’re using social media in a healthy way.

If you’re in need of grief resources or support, please click here.

Post written by Katie Karpinski and Nicole Krantz

Guilt & Grief: Feeling Okay after Losing a Loved One

Losing someone close to you presents a variety of emotions. Sadness, anger, or simply feeling numb are some responses; but the possible reactions are endless. Since each person has a very unique relationship with the deceased, it makes sense that their reactions will be equally unique.  It’s important to realize that you are not obligated to feel one way just because family or friends are expressing a certain emotion. It’s necessary that you know you are allowed to be doing well after the loss of a loved one. God does not judge you, nor compare you to others. He accepts you for all that you are and however you feel. Even knowing all this, it may be difficult if you find yourself moving forward while others continue to mourn. Continue reading for guidance and support on how to navigate these differences.

Everyone Reacts Differently

After the passing of a loved one, you may feel as if there is a hole in your life. It may seem that there is a missing piece that you are not sure how to fill or fix. People cope with the loss of a loved one in a variety of ways. Some people are extremely emotional during these times, you may see them crying or lashing out in anger. On the other hand, some people do nothing of the sort. Some feel no need to cry or be emotional. A sense of guilt may come over you for not expressing sadness as much as other family or friends. You may feel as if it looks like you do not take this situation as seriously as the rest of the bereaved, which is not true. This lack of emotion and compelling sense of guilt is not unusual. If you have felt this way, you are not alone. It does not mean you care less than others or even that you are not as sad as the rest of your family or friends. Everyone responds differently to heartache and if your reaction is more stoic, more subdued, or less emotional, it is both a valid and acceptable way to react.

Healing Takes on Various Forms

There are many ways and instances that show how a person’s healing process is different from others. Some people who are actively mourning may not want to talk about the deceased. Whereas, you may have no issue bringing up their name or telling stories about them. For some it may be too hard to see items that belonged to their loved one, but for you this may not be a big deal. Further, it may not be difficult for you to visit the grave of the deceased while it may be incredibly difficult for other mourning friends or family. You may feel connected to your loved one again or comforted by going to their grave, while others may not be able to. You should not feel ashamed of these differences. Instead, embrace them and learn how to heal within your own comfort levels.

God Understands

God is all knowing and loving. If your healing process includes you not showing your emotions, God understands. If you do not want to talk about your loss and keep to yourself, God accepts that as well. He knows how you truly feel and why you heal the way you do because He created you that way. He made you unique. We can take comfort in knowing that He will never compare you to others. He understands that you need to mourn in the way that is best for you. He alone knows what will bring you true comfort and healing. He accepts you for all that you are and how you feel, so lean on Him in times when you aren’t sure how to process your emotions. God will guide you.

Post written by Nicole Krantz

Keeping The Faith

To say our world is going through a turbulent time is an understatement. The confusion, anger, and fear that many of us face each day may seem incredibly overwhelming, and mourning the loss of a loved one only adds to this stress. It may be hard to find the motivation to remain hopeful.

However, I’ve found much comfort in the simple phrase: keep the faith.

While this suffering may be new to many of us, we must remember that our world is no stranger to suffering. Whether we look to the Jews of Egypt, those who lived during the time of Jesus Christ, those taken from their homes and sold into slavery, among many other groups – we can see how faith gave them the strength and the perseverance to continue on.

Personally, I look to my Slovenian ancestry for strength. I look to my parents and grandparents who were forced out of their homes due to their religious and political beliefs. They left everything they knew behind, only moving forward with the few items they could carry with them. However, despite their newfound poverty, despite moving as refugees from camp to camp, they found a way to celebrate Mass each Sunday. It was their faith in God’s mercy and love that kept them alive, and it was faith that led them to a better life.

We all face our own unique form of suffering on this earth. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with our struggles. However, we must remain faithful. We must remember that while we our limited to seeing the here and now, God is eternal. He has led the world through suffering time and time again, and He will always provide us with an everlasting hope.

God bless,

Andrej Lah

June 2020