What I’m about to say may be surprising, but grief isn’t only about death. It’s hard to believe because that’s what most people associate with grief, but there are many other types of losses. In fact, there are over 40 other life events that you could experience that would cause feelings of grief.
Remember that grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of, or change in, a familiar pattern of behavior. It’s the normal and natural reaction to any change in your life. That means that any event that causes change can result in grief.
Have you ever moved?
Moving definitely causes heartache, even if you moved from a small apartment to your dream home in the perfect neighborhood. Why? Because it’s a change in what’s familiar. So even if you’re thrilled about your new home you might also miss your old neighborhood, the people who lived in your building and the comfort of what was familiar.
Have you ever put your pet to sleep or surrendered him to the shelter?
That’s also a loss. Even if it was in your pet’s best interest, it’s still devastating for you.
So what are some other events that can cause grief? How about divorce, losing or changing jobs, or having your child leave home for college?
Kids might experience grief when a sibling is born, being a senior in high school or if their parents divorce.
Senior citizens might feel grief when they don’t feel needed anymore, retire or have to put their spouse in an assisted living facility.
As you can see, all of these events have one thing in common, change.
It’s crucial to know that feelings of grief aren’t only the result of death because if people don’t know they are experiencing grief then they might not find the tools they need to recover. It’s vital to talk about so that when you or someone you love is experiencing loss you can be supportive or ask for help.
Think about your life. When could you have been grieving, but didn’t acknowledge it because it didn’t have to do with someone dying?
Here is a list of events that can cause grief. It’s based on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale for Adults and it is not a ranking or hierarchy of losses. (We often say that “stress” is another word for “grief”.)
Death of a spouse
Death of a close family member
Personal injury or illness
Dismissal from work
Change in health of family member
Gain a new family member
Change in financial state
Death of a close friend
Change to different line of work
Change in frequency of arguments
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
Change in responsibilities at work
Child leaving home
Trouble with in-laws
Outstanding personal achievement
Spouse starts or stops work
Begin or end school
Change in living conditions
Revision of personal habits
Trouble with boss
Change in working hours or conditions
Change in residence
Change in schools
Change in recreation
Change in church activities
Change in social activities
Minor mortgage or loan
Change in sleeping habits
Change in number of family reunions
Change in eating habits
Minor violation of law
Let’s add Loss of Trust, Loss of Approval, Loss of Safety, Loss of Faith, Loss of Control of your body, sexual assault, pet loss, domestic violence, children running away, holidays and even marriage to the list! There are even more life events that cause grief for seniors, children and teenagers too.
So if you’ve ever felt a little “off”, wondered what was “wrong” with you or couldn’t figure out why you haven’t been the same since a certain event took place in your life, that might mean you have unresolved grief.
The good news is, there is a solution! Research at Kent State University has shown that The Grief Recovery Method approach to helping grievers deal with the pain of emotional loss in any relationship is “Evidence-Based” and effective. Our program is the only Grief Support Program to have received this distinction of being evidence-based! If you want help, it’s available!
Click here to learn more about programs that can help you recover from loss.