By Marianne Delorey, Ph.D.
When my son was about seven, he told me he remembered crying in a crib. I asked him about this early memory and all he could say was “I felt bad.” I asked, “Were you mad? Scared? Sad?” And he repeated, “I felt bad.” It occurred to me that he was so young he probably didn’t have the vocabulary to separate out the different emotions, so “bad” was all he could say and many years later, all he could remember.
As I have grappled with my own losses and watched others struggle, I believe part of our struggle with grief lies in our inability to properly identify and express our emotions. It is my hope that together we can create a vocabulary around grief.
Here are my first entries in this urban dictionary:
Granger – Angry Grief
Being angry while grieving is probably the most common combination of emotions. The anger can be substantive (like over the departed’s final wishes) or inconsequential (like getting the wrong coffee order). Granger can be immediate, or it can develop over time. Many people are completely unaware that they are experiencing any kind of grief when they are grangry. I have previously written about how grangry I was at my mother’s church for not coming to visit her while she was dying.
Mog – Missing Out Grief
This feeling can be used to describe how a bride might feel if her father is not around to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. It can be strong, but it is often a lingering knot in your stomach when you realize how death has changed your world. I felt mog when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and I could not share the victory with my father.
Enveef – Envy Grief
Envy grief is similar to mog in that it often arises when you are feeling left out, but the difference is that envy grief is more directed at a person. For instance, my husband lost his father to pancreatic cancer five weeks after diagnosis. He felt enveef watching Alex Trebek survive and thrive for almost two years after diagnosis.
Regrief – Experiencing grief again
About a month after my father died, my second cousin died. I barely knew him, but when I attended the funeral, I couldn’t stop sobbing. Of course, everyone knew I was truly grieving my father. Each new loss reminds us of other losses and the grief becomes cumulative.
Ceg – Current Events Grief
The impact of world events can have a profound impact on anyone. These feelings can be even stronger if you can identify with the bereaved in a specific way. For instance, my youngest son was the same age as the children who were slaughtered at Sandy Hook elementary school so each year that these children are remembered, I grieve again for the loss I could have experienced.
Glief – Gaslighting Grief
A number of years ago, I encountered an old friend of my father’s. He and I were on opposite sides of a legal battle and he told me, “You father would be very disappointed in you.” As confident as I was that this was bunk, I felt glief and wondered how accurate that was. I’ve also seen glief when a community grieves an active member who was unpleasant at best in his personal life, leaving his family to feel confused and resentful when hearing, “Oh, he was such a great man, he will truly be missed.”
These are just a few facets of the different kinds of grief I have witnessed and experienced. There are many more. I welcome you all to contribute to this new vocabulary by writing in and giving your best effort to naming and describing another facet. Together, we can turn grief from a generalized “bad” emotion into something more understandable and relatable. A common language will help us all talk about our griefs.