Understanding Hidden Grief: Why Might Someone Hide Their Grief?

Grief is a universal human experience, but the way we express and cope with it can vary greatly from person to person.
By illume Editorial Team
Last updated: Jul 19, 2023
3 min read

While some individuals openly grieve and seek support from friends and family, others may hide their grief, keeping their emotions buried deep within. In this blog, we will explore the reasons behind hidden grief and shed light on why some people may choose to conceal their pain. Understanding these motivations can help us provide better support to those who need it, fostering a more empathetic and caring environment.

Social Norms and Expectations:

In our society, certain social norms dictate how one should express grief. Some individuals might feel pressured to maintain a facade of strength and stoicism, believing that showing vulnerability is a sign of weakness. Consequently, they suppress their emotions, hiding their grief behind a brave smile. However, it is essential to recognize that grief is a natural reaction to loss, and it is okay to express it openly.

Fear of Being Misunderstood:

When someone experiences a type of grief that is not widely acknowledged or publicly mourned, they might fear that others won’t understand or validate their feelings. This type of loss, known as disenfranchised grief, occurs when the loss is not socially recognized or when the relationship to the deceased is not acknowledged. For example, the grief experienced after the loss of a pet or the end of a non-marital relationship may be overlooked by others. Consequently, individuals may hide their grief to avoid judgement or dismissive reactions.

Fear of Burdening Others:

People who hide their grief may do so out of consideration for their friends and family. They might worry that their loved ones are already dealing with their own grief and burdens and don’t want to add to their emotional load. In an attempt to protect their support system, they withdraw and keep their feelings hidden, not realising that friends and family would likely be more than willing to help if given the chance.

Cultural and Personal Beliefs:

Cultural and personal beliefs about grief can influence how someone copes with loss. In some cultures, public mourning is highly encouraged, while in others, grief is seen as a private and personal matter. Additionally, personal beliefs and past experiences with grief may shape how someone processes and works through their emotions. For instance, they might have been raised to believe that expressing emotions is inappropriate or weak, leading them to conceal their grief.

Fear of Stigmatization:

The fear of being stigmatized can prevent someone from openly discussing their grief, especially when it involves complex emotions like thoughts of suicide or self-harm. These feelings can be overwhelming, and individuals may be afraid of judgement or being labelled as mentally unstable. However, it is crucial to remember that seeking help from grief counsellors, mental health professionals, or a support group is a brave step towards healing.

The Power of Seeking Support:

No matter what type of grief someone is experiencing, seeking support is vital for the healing process. Friends, family members, grief counsellors, and mental health professionals can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to express their emotions and find solace. Connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences in a support group can also offer immense comfort and understanding.

Validating Hidden Grief or Sorrow:

It is important to acknowledge that hidden grief or sorrow is just as real and significant as openly expressed grief. The pain someone feels after losing a loved one, regardless of the relationship, is valid and deserves compassion. By validating hidden grief, we can create an environment where individuals feel comfortable sharing their emotions without fear of judgement.


To all those experiencing hidden grief or sorrow, remember that your emotions are valid and deserving of acknowledgment and support. Don’t be afraid to seek support from friends, family members, or professionals, regardless of the type of grief you are going through. Understanding why someone might hide their grief can help us become more empathetic and caring, fostering an environment where everyone’s pain is recognized and validated, no matter what type of loss they are facing. Let’s break free from societal expectations, encourage open conversations about grief, and provide a comforting space for healing and growth.