HomeEntertainmentCelebritiesFormer nurse explains the 17 types of grief a person can experience

Former nurse explains the 17 types of grief a person can experience

A nurse turned author has detailed the 17 different types of loss a person can experience, in her new book that is aimed at helping others overcome loss.

Although we often associate grief with the death or loss of a family member, it is possible to experience loss for many reasons.

These can include people, pets or objects, as well as parts of your own life. All that matters is that you have an emotional connection to it – whether that’s our health, finances, relationships, dreams, or – in light of the pandemic – normality.

‘They’re all forms of grief, like mini deaths in our life, and can trigger a grief process,” says Northamptonshire-based author and podcaster Shelley F. Knight who’s written Good Grief: The A-Z Approach of Modern Day Grief Healing.

Knight believes 'life, as much as grief, is about finding something you believe in'
Knight believes ‘life, as much as grief, is about finding something you believe in’

“I suspect the world is grieving now and many people are unaware, just pushing down the signs and symptoms, like disturbed sleep, anxiety, weakened immune system, and lack of focus.”

Twenty years ago, when Knight was a student nurse, she was told there are three forms of grief – normal grief, absent grief, and delayed grief. Now there are 17 different recognised types of grief, and she believes there will be more as we recover from the pandemic.

Back in 2019, when Knight had left nursing, she recalls having a conversation with two women about the loss she’d suffered in her own life, as well as the death she’d witnessed at work, when it dawned on her how much her thoughts on life and death had changed, and how she’d come to believe ‘we are more than just our physical body’.

She said: “The women were astounded I’d never written a book about my journey from the clinical to the spiritual, and that’s how the book came about really.

“It was a chance to reflect on my own grief journeys and also help people keep moving forward in life, especially when they feel stuck.”

Although it’s a book about how to process grief, the book initially examines life, the definitions of it, as well as life’s stages and lessons.

“A lot of what happens to us in life, and what we’re exposed to, can help how we cope with death and loss. If we have a lot of positive talk and openness around life and loss then we can grieve more openly and heal quicker,” Knight stated.

Author Shelley F. Knight
Author Shelley F. Knight

“In the past, when people were ill or dying, they were nursed within the home, but over time, through medical advancements and innovations, it’s become very clinical and detached. In order to receive medication or be artificially ventilated, we almost always die in hospital.

“But when we’re not regularly exposed to something, we start to develop this fear, or awkwardness, even though death remains the only certainty in our life.”

One of the questions she tackles is whether there’s such a thing as a good death.

Having seen death ‘many, many times’, Knight believes there is.

“The key to a good death is to have a good life. By that I mean you’re not dying with those regrets and what ifs still inside you. If you have a good life, then you don’t die feeling unfulfilled,” she says.

Knight believes the key to a good death is to have a good life
Knight believes the key to a good death is to have a good life

“Another life lesson I learned from the dying is to connect with something bigger than yourself, whatever that might be.

“I know, some people are cynical about spirituality or certain religions, but life, as much as grief, is about finding something you believe in. When you believe in something, it’s the reason you get out of bed in the morning.”

Towards the end of the book, Knight includes a chapter titled The Grief Voice Box to aid communication after loss and death (“We all experience loss on some level, but we don’t know how to handle it”), and also provides a toolbox, a list of practical tips, from A for Acceptance through to Z for sleep, to help people move on.

“I worry about becoming stagnant, and so I’m a huge advocate of trying new things, however short or simple, as these things have an amazing ripple effect in our lives.

“It’s about creating time for yourself each day, and most of the tools are things you can try within your own home because it’s a safe space and often we’re so afraid to ask for help.”

Movement, in all its forms, is crucial, whether it’s going out for a walk, yoga, even smiling, as the brain can’t distinguish between a real and false one.

“Just move. And not just yourself. If you’re living in a home where there’s been loss, either of a loved one or a relationship, move the furniture around. Break up that energy and how you expect things to be each day,” says Knight.

“We have a saying in our family, ‘if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll only get what you’ve got and while we’re alive we should truly try and live’, which means trying something new, each and every day.”

Good Grief by Shelley F. Knight: A-Z Approach to Modern Day Gratitude Healing is available now.

Former nurse explains the 17 types of grief a person can experience
Anurag Reddy
I'm a 29-year-old travel enthusiast, travel and nature photographer, Computer Science graduate, and Mass Communication student. I have seen different shades of life through traveling and lived different lives through reading. With every word I write, I travel within, and I understand myself better. Writing helps me discover myself, and that paved roads for me to choose writing as a profession.


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