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MMG7 Types of Grief: Cumulative Grief

Experiencing grief after a loss is challenging in itself, but to add more loss can bring on what some call, “grief overload.”  

That’s an excerpter from the show. Today, we’ll  be discussing Cumulative Grief And, here’s the intro.


I’m glad you chose to join me for this discussion on Cumulative Grief

Did you know that there are different types of grief? 

While we discuss Cumulative Grief, keep in mind that it isn’t “good” or “bad,” it’s a mere way for you to identify what you are experiencing. When you understand what you are experiencing, it can be used as a grounding place and it can bring normalcy to the experience, which in itself is gratifying and beneficial. 

Cumulative Grief is when someone experiences multiple losses within a short period of time.

Experiencing grief after a loss is challenging in itself, but to add more loss can bring on what some call, “grief overload.”  When someone experiences grief overload or cumulative grief, they many times have thoughts of “I’m going out of my mind,” or “I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.” Please understand that this reaction is normal, very normal to an abnormal situation. 

There are many reactions people can have after experiencing multiple losses in a short period of time, such as denial or a state of shock. Your brain is an amazing and powerful organ. Some come from the belief system that your subconscious mind will only share information with your conscious mind when needed. That your subconscious mind is partially designed to only give your conscious mind information it can process at that moment. So when someone is in denial after experiencing a loss, one can see it as that person’s subconscious mind is protecting them from reality because their conscious mind can’t handle processing the multiple loss at this moment. The relationship between your conscious mind and subconscious mind is much more complicated and layered that what I described, but that’s a very simplistic overview. 

For those who like analogies, here’s one that was taken from “Visualize what is happening inside you. Most of us have a drawer, cupboard or closet where we store those scattered items that we might need some day, but do not know what to do with in the meantime. (We have a neighbor down the street who appears to have an entire garage filled with such things.) When we open this container, it is often difficult to find anything amid all of that clutter. It can be overwhelming. This is very much like our personal internal storage center for those grief filled memories of our life. It is such a random collection of memories of sad moments from our life that it is difficult to isolate each individual thought.”

The belief that our subconscious mind will only share what your conscious mind can handle, and the analogy that our internal experience is like a messy drawer or closet resulting on one becoming overwhelmed and shutting down, can be seen as defense mechanisms. While family members may try to force a loved one to acknowledge multiple losses, the person experiencing the cumulative grief has intentionally or unintentionally created a defense mechanism to protect themselves from the pain and sadness of their loss. History of trauma is a factor to consider that can play a key role in the use of defense mechanisms. 

So, what to do?

Please be understanding of yourself and others who are in denial or shock after experiencing multiple losses in a short period of time. It may be possible that your conscious mind is unable to processes that information at this time. The grand impact of those losses may be too overwhelming for you to process and that’s okay. When you are ready, take one step at a time to work through your Cumulative Grief. You can learn to manage the grief that derived from your multiple losses

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