One of the hardest things for some people to understand is that everyone grieves in a different way. Throwing yourself back into your “normal” routine may be perfect for some people, but the worst possible thing for others.
I’m not even talking about gender. The differences I’m talking about today are personality differences. Of course, gender, ethnicity, even age may have an influence on these behaviors. But that’s what they are: responses to a situation.
Personality and behavioral assessments are used in business every day: Enneagram, Meyers-Briggs, DISC. In Dr. Kenneth Doka’s book, Disenfranchised Grief, he offers a description of different types of grievers. You may see yourself and others in these descriptions:
1. Intuitive: Some might say an intuitive griever is typically a woman, and certainly in our society, a woman expressing her grief through crying is accepted. But this griever can also experience other physical manifestations of their grief: anxiety, confusion, inability to concentrate, physical exhaustion.
2. Instrumental: Similarly, an instrumental griever may more likely be a man. This is someone who is reluctant to talk about their feelings, and anxious to get back to “normal”. They may also be the person who needs to “do” something: bring food over to the deceased’s family, organize a memorial service, or clean out a closet.
3. Blended: You may even be one of those grievers who possess qualities of both the intuitive and instrumental grieve.
4. Dissonant: This is a person in conflict: a man who wants to express his grief, but feels like society won’t allow that. It could also be a woman who feels guilty for not crying a lot. You don’t feel like those around you will allow you to grieve the way that makes the most sense to you.
I’m not trying to perpetuate stereotypes.
But I wanted to point out these differences because often those who mourn friends are criticized for grieving. The people around them don’t understand the depth of the pain they feel, because the person who died is “just” a friend.
Recognize that everyone grieves differently.
And let them.