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Disguised Grief

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Disguised Grief[edit]

Grieving is a significant part of the several psychological disorders or mental health concerns in society.[1]. Typically grief is associated with sadness and depressive symptoms, however there are several phases and types of grief that people can experience[2]. However, through continuous research, people are learning that grief is not just associated with the death of a loved one. It is a much more complex and diverse emotion that people can experience in several ways[3]. Disguised Grief is a type of grieving that is hidden from others. When feelings of sadness, distress, or confusion go unaddressed when trauma occurs it can lead to a continuous burden, which results in disguised grief[4]

Identifying The Symptoms[edit]

As described in the name, disguised grief can be difficult to distinguish due to the symptoms not always being associated to typical grieving. Disguised grief can be displayed as anger, resentment, irritability, hostile, bitterness, grudges, or frustration.[4]. These symptoms arise due to the fact that individuals have buried their grief and have left it unaddressed[4]. Due to the specific symptoms associated with disguised grief it is often that it goes unnoticed by others or the individual experiencing it. It is common for disguised grief to be compared to unresolved pain. As described by Dr. Joan Rosenberg, it is important to reflect upon past experiences to become consciously aware of if disguised grief may be apparent in your life. Dr. Rosenberg explains how it is crucial to go through the reflective process of grief to determine if there is parts of your life that have been pushed down and turned into distressing symptoms[4]

Grief Reset Protocol[edit]

There are several different approaches to helping individuals heal from grief including: therapy, counselling, support groups, etc[5]. Disguised grief is particular because it commonly is not associated with a loved one passing away, but rather untreated past experiences. The grief rest protocol was created by Dr. Rosenberg in hopes to help guide individuals through their disguised grief and to allow others to think about what is emotionally unfinished in their lives[6]. The grief reset protocol is made up of 5 stages that participants are guided through.

Grieve Unspoken Dimensions[7][edit]

The first stage of the grief reset protocol is taking time to know and understand what the individual is grieving. People must understand and become aware of what happened to them. This stage can be particularly different for participants because it is acknowledging what they have lost. This stage can be emotional and chaotic. Individuals are encouraged to go through the deepened emotions of what they have gone through/lost. With disguised grief some things that people may uncover during this phase is unresolved emotions from a divorce, a friendship fall out, death of a loved one at a young age, a job layoff, etc.

Reflect On The Memory Itself[7][edit]

Individuals must spend time with the memory and take time to reflect upon the details of what happened. There is a variety of ways to go about this phase including: spending time in nature, reading a book, writing in a journal, listening to music, poetic writing, or by having conversations about the memory with others. It is important to take time with the memory because more details and specifics about the experience will be uncovered within an individuals consciousness.

Inquire More Deeply[7][edit]

This stage involves making sense of the memories that have been uncovered. It involves participants attempting to understand how certain experiences in their lives have had an impact. During this phase it is encouraged for individuals to ask questions such as, "when the experience occurred how did it impact you?" or "how was it relevant to you as you have aged?" The main goal of the stage is for individuals to realize how the experiences were significant in their lives. Self reflections and questions are crucial in this phase to deepen the awareness of the disguised grief.

Extract The Good[7][edit]

Although the negative emotions are valid and encouraged while going through grief, this stage is important so that people can reflect upon how the experiences have changed them for the good. Within terrible experiences there is ways to make lessons that you live with everyday. It can be extremely hard to dig into the benefit of harmful experiences, yet it is important to realize the good that has come from the grief.

Forgive Yourself & Others[7][edit]

To move through disguised grief an individual needs to know and accept that they cannot change the past or the things that have happened. Forgiveness allows acceptance within participants and it releases the bud up emotions that are associated with disguised grief.


  1. Young, Jeff; Bailey, Glenn; Rycroft, Pam (December 2004). "Family Grief and Mental Health: A Systemic, Contextual and Compassionate Analysis". Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy. 25 (4): 188–197. doi:10.1002/j.1467-8438.2004.tb00617.x. ISSN 0814-723X.
  2. Bonanno, George A; Kaltman, Stacey (July 2001). "The varieties of grief experience". Clinical Psychology Review. 21 (5): 705–734. doi:10.1016/s0272-7358(00)00062-3. ISSN 0272-7358. PMID 11434227.
  3. Ogrodniczuk, John S; Piper, William E; Joyce, Anthony S; Weideman, Rene; McCallum, Mary; Azim, Hassan F; Rosie, John S (March 2003). "Differentiating Symptoms of Complicated Grief and Depression among Psychiatric Outpatients". The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 48 (2): 87–93. doi:10.1177/070674370304800204. ISSN 0706-7437. PMID 12655905. Unknown parameter |s2cid= ignored (help)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Fuchs, Thomas (2021-11-19), "Grief, melancholy, and depression", Cultural, Existential and Phenomenological Dimensions of Grief Experience, London: Routledge, pp. 11–24, doi:10.4324/9781003099420-3, ISBN 9781003099420, retrieved 2021-12-10 Unknown parameter |s2cid= ignored (help)
  5. Hoyt, William T. (2008). "Effectiveness of Grief Interventions: A New Meta-Analysis". PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e492172008-001. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  6. The Basics of Data Literacy: Helping Your Students (and You!) Make Sense of Data. 2013. doi:10.2505/9781938946035. ISBN 978-1-938946-03-5. Search this book on
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Grief: A Pathway to Forgiveness | Joan Rosenberg | TEDxRoseburg, retrieved 2021-12-10

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