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Grieving Multiple Losses At Once

Multiple grief comes in many forms. You may have lost a few people you love within a short period of time, or you may have lost one special person but it came at the same time you were going through a divorce, job loss, or your own health diagnosis. Grieving multiple losses at once is certainly stressful and overwhelming, challenging even the strongest of us all. There are things that can help. Bereavement services in San Mateo and elsewhere, for one, can get you through those dark times as you struggle to come to terms with the upheaval in your life.

Bereavement services like counseling and support groups can connect you with the resources you need to grieve those multiple losses. You will need help. Your friends and family can offer advice and support, but sometimes professional help or help from those going through something similar can really get to the heart of the matter.

Multiple Grief: What is It?

It’s just what it sounds like: grieving multiple losses at one time. It’s more common than you may think, so you’re not alone. It can even result in grief overload. Multiple grief takes many forms:

  • Multiple deaths of friends or family within a short period of time.  
  • Combination of a death in the family, divorce or separation, job loss, accident, or chronic illness diagnosis, says Grief and Sympathy.
  • Loss of a child, either through miscarriage, still birth, illness, or the need to give them up for adoption.
  • Loss of a pet or your home.
  • Empty nest syndrome for older adults, which can lead to loss of identity.

When all or some of these events occur concurrently, it can seem hopeless, leaving you wondering how you will cope with it all. The resulting feelings of these varied types of losses put added pressure on families who are already grieving the death of a beloved parent, spouse, etc. And the funny thing is, it doesn’t even have to be a negative or sad event. It can also be something like a wedding on top of the loss you’re feeling.

Multiple grief is also known as cumulative grief. Because you have had a unique relationship with each person who has died, it’s difficult to gather all your thoughts about each one and throw them in a box to be unpacked all at once. The grieving process doesn’t work like that. You need to process each individual loss separately in order to come to terms with it. Many people succumb to substance use and abuse as they try to numb the pain, but this further complicates cumulative grief.

Tips on How to Manage Multiple or Cumulative Grief

  • Let yourself feel the pain and sorrow. Don’t apologize for the feelings of grief. Let it out.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. You will have to deal with the grief now or later, and it’s better to tackle it all now rather than add another problem to the mix.
  • Own your grief. Don’t let people dictate how you should be grieving, particularly when it comes to multiple losses. Your grief and coping styles are unique to you and you alone.
  • Stick to a daily routine. This is at least one part of your life that you can control, even when everything else seems unsettled and unsure.
  • Process each loss one at a time, taking frequent self-care breaks during this period.
  • Take mindfulness breaks and check in with your body often.
  • Be patient. Working through cumulative grief takes time.
  • Reach out to a therapist or join a support group for those facing multiple losses if you feel overwhelmed, alone, afraid and unsure how to proceed.
  • Create a grief journal and write in it every day.
  • Connect with loved ones who will support you through each stage.


When people get overwhelmed by loss or stress, the mind automatically kicks into defense mechanism mode, and that mode is avoidance. While shock and avoidance don’t sound all that healthy, it’s actually an evolutionary response to stress whereby our body goes into survival mode. It allows you to function in the short term and maintain your day-to-day activities. While this can work for the initial shock, it’s important to remind yourself that you’ll have to make a big effort to face the reality of the loss. Avoidance forever is never a solution to the problem. It doesn’t make the feelings go away, and it doesn’t help you become stronger for the future.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

Pathways are happy to offer a variety of bereavement services to meet your needs. Perhaps you would like to join a support group for multiple losses, or maybe you would prefer one-on-one counseling sessions with a therapist. Whatever you choose, it’s important to get the help you need. We would love for you to contact us today at 888-978-1306 to learn more.