Inhibited Grief: Recognizing It and Finding Resolution | LoveToKnow (2024)

Inhibited Grief: Recognizing It and Finding Resolution | LoveToKnow (1)

Inhibited grief occurs when an individual experiences a loss of any kind and consciously blocks themselves from experiencing their natural grief related process. To others, inhibited grieving may look like an individual who is not experiencing grief related reactions outwardly whatsoever.

Inhibited Grief

Inhibited grief, while not technically a mental health diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V, still has unique signs and symptoms when compared to other types of grief related reactions. Inhibited grief may also be referred to, in general, as a type of unresolved grief.

Inhibited Grieving Symptoms

When emotions, especially painful and complex ones, are pushed down and blocked from being experienced, their energy still needs a place to go. These painful emotions and thoughts may manifest as:

  • Chronic illness that suddenly appears after the grief triggering experience
  • Physical aches and pains that are not typically experienced and not triggered by any other reasonable explanation (injury, pre-existing condition)
  • Gastrointestinal issues that appear after the triggering experience (nausea, stomachaches, etc.)
  • Low energy that is not typical for the individual
  • Sleep and eating changes
  • Headaches and/or migraines

It's important to note that grief is often comorbid with other mental health conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and substance abuse disorders.

Examples of Inhibited Grief

Examples of inhibited grief may look like:

  • Someone who tries to constantly stay busy and avoids staying still
  • Self-medicating often with drugs and/or alcohol
  • Avoiding grief related triggers at any cost
  • Discussing the deceased individual or situation as if nothing has changed
  • Carrying on with their life without taking any time for themselves (for example, not taking any time off of work to grieve)

Working Through Inhibited Grief

There are many reasons why someone would want to block their grief related symptoms and emotions. They may fear falling apart or losing control, may feel like they need to hold their family together and can't release their emotions, and they may not feel ready to experience the reality of the situation. Some methods and treatments that may be helpful to try:

  • Give yourself permission to feel what you need to feel so you can process your experience in healthy ways
  • Grief journaling can release and process your emotional experience
  • Trauma centered therapeutic techniques aims to assist with highly complex and/or painful emotions (Trauma focused CBT, EMDR, equine assisted psychotherapy for those experiencing grief)
  • Connect with trusted loved ones and leaning on them for support
  • Join a grief support group online or in person
  • Read grief-focused literature to better understand the mind and body's experience with grief
  • Practice grief-focused yoga

If you or a loved one is having thoughts of self harm or thoughts of harming others, be sure to get help right away. This may include both immediate and long-term support. Examples of this include an immediate wellness check via the police, connecting with a crisis line, inpatient treatment, and consistent therapeutic intervention that may eventually be tapered down.

What Are the 7 Signs of Grieving?

Stages of grief will vary depending on the individual. This means that some may experience some stages, all stages, and/or the stages in a unique order. Stages of grieving may include:

  • Denial of the loss
  • Experiencing painful feelings
  • Experiencing anger
  • Bargaining: willing to trade anything to have your loved one back or the situation back to what it was
  • Experiencing depressive symptoms
  • Testing: finding a way to move forward, trying new routines
  • Acceptance

What Are the Physical and Emotional Responses to Grief and Loss?

Physical and emotional responses to grief and loss will vary depending on the individual. Some examples include:

Inhibited Grief: Recognizing It and Finding Resolution | LoveToKnow (2)
  • Somatic discomfort or pain such as headaches, body aches, and gastrointestinal distress
  • Feeling numb
  • Feeling sad and/or depressed
  • Feeling exhausted
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yearning to be with the deceased individual

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Complicated Grief vs. Inhibited Grieving

Complicated grief, which is now referred to as persistent complex bereavement disorder, differs from inhibited grieving in that grief related symptoms are outwardly shown. Symptoms of persistent complex bereavement disorder last every day for at least six months after the loss without improvement and include:

  • Yearning to join the deceased individual
  • Anhedonia
  • Feeling lonely, empty, and without purpose
  • Isolating yourself
  • Perseverating over the loss
  • Intense sadness
  • Intense yearning for the deceased individual
  • Feeling numb or in disbelief regarding the passing
  • Intense rumination about the loss without improvement

Disenfranchised Grief vs. Inhibited Grieving

Disenfranchised grief occurs when an individual or group of individuals experiences a loss that is not socially and/or culturally perceived as a loss and therefore may invalidate their grief related feelings and thoughts. Disenfranchised grief can add another layer of pain to the already painful grief related emotions, as support can play a huge role in processing grief in healthy ways. Unlike inhibited grief, disenfranchised grief is often outwardly shown, even though it may not be considered "acceptable" by some.

What Is Inhibited Grieving?

Inhibited grieving is a complex reaction to the grieving process that can occur for various reasons. Know that if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of inhibited grieving, there are ways to cope at a pace that feels safe, so painful emotions and thoughts can be processed and released in healthy ways.

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Inhibited Grief: Recognizing It and Finding Resolution | LoveToKnow (2024)


What is an example of inhibited grief? ›

If a major life change or loss happens in your life and you feel yourself trying to restrict your grieving process, pushing away strong emotions, or trying to stay busy you may be inhibiting your grieving (& healing) process.

How to fix inhibited grief? ›

On your own, you can work to build thought patterns and coping methods that help you heal from grief. Let yourself feel your feelings without judgment. You can express your feelings through journaling, talking to trusted friends, art, or other outlets.

When a person's loss and grief is not acknowledged or Recognised by others? ›

This is often referred to as disenfranchised grief, which can leave the bereaved person feeling alone, isolated, unsupported or unable to share their experience.

What is inhibited grieving DBT? ›

inhibited grieving occurs due to the patient using avoidance as a primary coping skill. Avoidance of unpleasant emotion is reinforced by the environment and short-term relief. This creates a vicious cycle in which avoidance sensitizes the patient to future life stressors and leads to more actual crises.

What is the difference between unrelenting crisis and inhibited grieving? ›

Unrelenting crisis is the flip side of inhibited grieving. Whereas inhibited grieving involves avoiding or escaping your emotions, unrelenting crisis is like living within the chaos of your emotions, doing what your emotions are telling you to do, and ending up in difficult, overwhelming and stressful situations.

What is delayed or inhibited grief? ›

Inhibited or absent grief: A pattern in which persons show little evidence of the expected separation distress, seeking, yearning, or other characteristics of normal grief. Delayed grief: A pattern in which symptoms of distress, seeking, yearning, etc., occur at a much later time than is typical.

What does suppressing grief look like? ›

Inhibited grief

As a result, many people who repress their emotions don't realize they're doing so. Unfortunately, when you don't allow yourself to pause and feel these emotions, grief often shows up as physical symptoms like an upset stomach, insomnia, anxiety or even panic attacks.

What is the most common response to unresolved grief? ›

Unresolved grief can lead to various symptoms, including anger, guilt, and delayed depression. Some other common symptoms are hypervigilance, being clingy or detached. The best way to deal with unresolved grief is to get closure; you can write a letter.

What may occur in a person if grief is not resolved? ›

Complicated grief can affect you physically, mentally and socially. Without appropriate treatment, complications may include: Depression. Suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

What is dysfunctional grieving? ›

Abstract. Dysfunctional grieving represents a failure to follow the predictable course of normal grieving to resolution (Lindemann, 1944). When the process deviates from the norm, the individual becomes overwhelmed and resorts to maladaptive coping.

What is the 4 missed rule in DBT? ›

In DBT, if you miss four consecutive individual sessions or four consecutive DBT skills group sessions, you are discharged from the program. This is based on the idea that DBT can only work if a person is coming to treatment.

What is maladaptive grief? ›

“Maladaptive grief can occur when the loss disrupts an individual's sense of self and upends one's worldview,” Rainwater continues. “A violent death, such as a mass shooting, can make one question the safety and sanctity of life.

Why are people against DBT? ›

Criticisms of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

- DBT requires a significant time commitment (from the consumer and the clinician). - There are many skills in DBT, which may be overwhelming. As a result, consumers who may benefit from it may find it overly complex and unwilling to try.

What is a good example of disenfranchised grief? ›

Examples of disenfranchised grief include loss of a pet, perinatal losses, elective abortions, loss of a body part, loss of a personality from dementia, and loss of a loved one who is not “blood related” (i.e. a boyfriend/girlfriend, extramarital lover, in-laws).

Which of the following is the best example of disenfranchised grief? ›

Examples of Disenfranchised Grief

Some examples of loss that may not be accepted by social groups or society include: Pet loss. Death of someone who was incarcerated or a former inmate. Pregnancy loss.

What is emotional inhibition? ›

Emotional inhibition is the unhealthy suppression of emotions and behaviors and it can lead to feeling numb and empty. However, these feelings can also be a symptom of many mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression.


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