yes, therapy helps!
The 8 types of mourning and their characteristics

The 8 types of mourning and their characteristics

March 24, 2024

Grief is one of the hardest experiences which can pass a human being throughout his life. Although many people associate it with death, this phenomenon can also occur when we break our hearts or when we lose a job after many years in the same position; It occurs, in general, in situations where something that we interpret as a loss occurs.

Undoubtedly, overcoming the duel is complicated, so the person must go through a series of stages to get back on track. It is a very painful experience and each individual has a personal way of living it. Likewise, there are several types of mourning , which is why it is difficult to talk about a sequence of actions to be taken to assimilate this experience in the best possible way. In this article we delve into the different types of mourning and their characteristics.


The 5 phases of mourning

Over the years, some theories about the phases through which a person who is in a period of mourning have been appearing. One of the best known is that of psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross , published in the year 1969 in the book On death and dying.

His idea is based on the fact that there are 5 stages of mourning. Now, these five phases are not always happening with the same placement and sequentially, that is, not all people in the duel phase have to go through the 5 stages. Also, when they go through they do not have to always appear in the same order .

According to the theory of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the stages of mourning are:


1. Denial

The first of the phases is denial, which is characterized by the person does not accept the reality (consciously or unconsciously). This occurs as a defense mechanism and is perfectly normal. In this way, the individual reduces the anxiety of the moment.

The real problem is when people get stuck at this stage because they can not face the traumatic change, so they ignore it as a defensive response. The death of a loved one, of course, is not particularly easy to avoid and can not be avoided indefinitely.

2. Anger or anger

The sadness can lead a person to suffer anger and rage and to look for guilty . This anger can manifest itself in different ways, blaming oneself or blaming others, and can be projected against animals and objects.

3 - Negotiation

In this stage, the pain leads to seek a fictitious negotiation. In fact, many people who face death they try to negotiate even with a divine force .


Other people, those who suffer a minor trauma, can carry out other negotiations or commitments. For example "Can we still be friends?" or "I'm going to achieve this for you." Negotiation rarely provides a sustainable solution, but it can reduce the pain of the moment.

4 - Depression

The impact of the loss of someone close can lead a person to a very painful situation, which is accompanied by an enormous sadness and an existential crisis, when he realizes that this person disappears from his life. Even though the symptoms resemble depressive disorder Once the acceptance of the situation occurs, the symptomatology remits.

  • Related article: "Existential crisis: when we do not find meaning in our life"

5 - Acceptance

This stage happens when this painful situation has been accepted and It depends on the resources of each one to accept it before or after . It is not a stage that represents joy, but rather emotional detachment and understanding of what may have happened. If the person spends a lot of time in grieving and does not accept the situation, it is necessary to seek psychological help to overcome it.

Types of losses

Since the mourning stage does not necessarily have to happen because of the loss of a loved one, before moving on to the mourning types we will move on to the different kinds of losses that can occur :

  • Relational losses : They have to do with the loss of people. That is, separations, divorce, death of loved ones, etc.
  • Losses of capabilities : Occurs when an individual loses physical and / or mental abilities. For example, by an amputation of a member.
  • Material losses : It occurs before the loss of objects, possessions and, ultimately, material losses.
  • Evolutionary losses : Are the changes in the stages of life: old age, retirement, etc. Not everyone fits this situation equally.

Not all losses generate duel However, depending on the resources or other psychological variables (such as self-esteem or lack of social skills) of each one, the losses can cause discomfort and suffering for more or less time.

Types of mourning

What are the types of bereavement? Below you can find the different types of duel.

1. Anticipatory grief

The anticipated grief is that which is given before the death has occurred . It is usual when a disease is diagnosed that has no cure. The process of mourning is the usual, which the person experiences various feelings and emotions that anticipate that will prepare him emotionally and intellectually for the inevitable loss.

The anticipated grief is a process of prolonged grief, not as acute as the rest, since when death comes it is usually experienced, in part, as something that gives calm.

2. Unresolved grief

Unresolved grief, as the name suggests, means that the mourning phase is still present . However, it is often referred to as the type of grief that happens when a certain time has passed (between 18 and 24 months) and has not yet been overcome.

3. Chronic grief

Chronic grief is also a kind of unresolved grief, which does not subside with the passage of time and lasts for years . It is also called pathological duel or complicated duel.

The pathological grief can occur when the person is unable to stop reliving in a detailed and vivid the events related to death, and everything that happens reminds him of that experience.

4. Absent grief

This type of duel refers to when the person denies that the events have occurred . Therefore, it is the stage of denial of which we have spoken before, in which the individual continues to avoid reality despite having spent a lot of time. That is, the person has been stuck in this phase because he does not want to face the situation.

5. Delayed mourning

It is similar to normal duel, with the difference that its beginning occurs after a time. Usually it is part of the absent duel, and also receives the name of frozen duel . It usually appears in people who control their emotions in excess and appear apparently strong. For example, a person who has children and must be shown whole.

Delayed mourning usually occurs when the person who suffers it, at first, You must take care of many things that require your immediate attention , such as caring for a family.

6. Inhibited duel

Inhibited grief occurs when there is a difficulty in expressing feelings , so that the person avoids the pain of loss. Usually associated with complaining somatic. The limitations of the personality of the individual prevents him from mourning or expressing grief. Unlike absent grief, it is not a defense mechanism.

7. Unauthorized mourning

This type of duel happens when the environment surrounding the person does not accept the mourning of this . For example, after a long time the family reproaches the person who continues to grieve. This represses the feelings facing the family, but internally has not overcome.

Many times, this type of mourning occurs when the person who died or left forever was associated with a stigma and was excluded, at least for the immediate environment of the person who suffers (for example, his family). Expressing mourning can be a symbolic act that subverts certain political and social ideas. For example, if the absent person was the homosexual couple of someone and the family does not approve this type of relationship.

8. Distorted grief

The distorted duel manifests itself as a strong reaction disproportionate to the situation . It usually happens when the person has already experienced a previous grief and is faced with a new situation of grief.

For example, he may have experienced the death of a father, and when an uncle dies, he also relives the death of his father, which leads to a much more intense, painful and disabling situation.

Bibliographic references:

  • Vértice Team (2010). The duel and the funeral attention. Verticebook Editorial.
  • Payás Puigarnau, Alba. The tasks of mourning. Bereavement psychotherapy from an integrative-relational model. Madrid: Paidós, 2010. ISBN 9788449324239.
  • Worden, William J. The treatment of grief: psychological counseling and therapy. Barcelona: Paidós, 2004.ISBN 9788449316562.

The Grieving Process: Coping with Death (March 2024).


Similar Articles