What Is Cumulative Grief?

By: Schilling Funeral Home & Cremation
Monday, September 20, 2021

Have you heard of cumulative grief? While everyone will experience grief at one time or another, generally after the loss of a loved one and a service at a funeral home in Morrison, IL, experiencing losses one right after another can lead to what is called “cumulative grief.”  

Cumulative grief can occur when someone experiences more than one loss in a short period of time, causing the pain of each loss to compound each other into oftentimes overwhelming grief. The symptoms of cumulative grief include numbness, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, feeling overwhelmed, avoiding processing the losses, and processing one loss but not being able to process any others.   

Here are fast facts about cumulative grief to help you understand this phenomenon and how you can get through it. To begin, all grief, even cumulative grief, takes time to work through. Don’t try and rush through the feelings even if it hurts as this may just leave you feeling overwhelmed. Don’t try to avoid the feelings, either, as they will continue to build up and cause more pain in the long run.  

Age increases the risk of cumulative grief. As people get into their 70s, 80s, and 90s, they oftentimes find themselves experiencing more frequent loss of friends, family members, and other loved ones. Substance abuse can also increase the risk for cumulative grief. People that use drugs or alcohol to numb grief oftentimes don’t fully feel their losses, putting them at greater risk for cumulative grief when they stop using the drugs or alcohol. 

Remember, it’s not shameful to seek help, especially since cumulative grief can affect your physical health. Finding professional help, like a therapist or counselor, can go a long way towards easing you through cumulative grief. Grief can devastate you emotionally, mentally, and physically. In fact, it can raise blood pressure, increase the risk of blood clots, and even alter the heart muscle to mimic the symptoms of a heart attack.  

Multiple loses can also heighten feelings. The simple nature of cumulative grief is that it’s hard. How could feeling the pain of multiple losses not be? As tough as feeling the heightened emotions all at once, it’s better than ignoring the feelings until they become too much to bear. Grief is also cyclical. Grief, especially cumulative grief, is cyclical, meaning that one day you might feel better, but then the next you start to feel terrible again. This doesn’t mean you’re regressing or not making progress, it’s just part of the grief experience. This cyclical nature also means that you can make room for joy and happiness within your grief journey. After all, being happy does not negate the love you had for your lost loved one. 

Finally, cumulative grief isn’t just about death. While death is the most common cause of cumulative grief, it can also be caused by other losses like a change in friends, loss of identity, job loss, or a loss in future dreams or goals.  

Cumulative grief may be hard, but you can get through it. Work one day at a time and you will come out the other side. Schilling Funeral Home & Cremation is here to help if you want to learn more about grief or Morrison, IL funeral homes. Call or visit us today.  

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