Grief: Normal vs. Delayed Process



Shock:  numbing, shutting down No emotion/numbing
Physical Symptoms:  children to take on symptoms of person who dies (ex.: my dad’s swearing) Throwing self into work or activity
Emotional release Illness (cancer, asthma, ulcers, etc.)
Panic Anger
Guilt:  What was the last thing I said?  Did I do everything I could?  Guilt is how we take power back in powerless situations Addictions
Hostility/anger Anniversary responses: triggers
Sense of isolation/depression Lack of spontaneity:  not being able to play
Regression/difficulty returning to normal affairs Living in the past
Social sharing/talking about loss/sadness/memories Inability to attach to others
Hope returns gradually Anxiety/panic
Present and future focus.  It takes a full cycle of season to recover-knowing; understanding and feelings is what allows us to act normally. Chronic depression
Chronic undoing: trying to get it right, keep trying to undo the last things that happened in grief and trauma.


Jane Middleton Moz – Delayed Grief

It takes one full cycle of season to grieve.
It is tradition or dysfunction to keep people from grieving or to disallow children to grieve.


  • Loved ones: Death, divorce, disability (Alzheimer’s, etc.)
  • Safety was gone
  • Trust: sexual abuse survivors
  • Culture: boarding school, religion
  • Friendship
  • Play/spontaneity
  • Needs: inability to ask for help with our needs
  • Feelings: shutting down into numbness, getting stuck in the first part of normal grief cycle
  • Memory: Either remember without any or loss of memories
  • Sexuality
  • Rituals
  • Children

Some Reasons for Delayed Grief

  • Ambivalence in the relationship: unfinished business. The loss: grieving the parent we wished we had.
  • Early experience of ungrieved losses: pole up of losses. The last grief may trigger all of the previous ungrieved losses.
  • Unresolved trauma in childhood or adulthood: need to understand develop mentally= frozen feelings.
  • Life crisis prior to loss. Eq: Illness, job loss, all energy used up, none left over to grieve.
  • Lack of social support: biggest cause.
  • Secondary stresses:
  • Addictions: dry drunks, unresolved issues.