Just as people’s characteristics are individual to them, but sometimes similar to other peoples, grief is unique to each person but may have some similarities to others grieve. There are numerous grief theories that explain the stages we go through, how it impacts us, the process of grieving and how we conceptualize our future life after losing someone we cared about.
One theory that resonates for many people is by Martin and Doka (2000) as it helps to explain styles of grieving. According to them Intuitive Grievers experience intense feelings + emotions and are often demonstrative, so it’s easy to know how they are feeling as they verbalise and demonstrate their grief through crying and their emotions. You may notice it also by them describing how it is for them such as saying they feel confused, have difficulty concentrating, physically exhausted or anxious.
Whereas for Instrumental Grievers, their feelings + emotions are not as intense and they process their grief through focusing on thinking and doing. You may not notice that they are thinking about what happened and solving problems. However you may notice they are doing activities so they can manage their environment to lessen confusion or the impact them and their family. You may also hear them say when you try to sooth them or offer support that they don’t want to talk about their feelings.
Each of us is quite different in how we express our grief. Most people cry, and for some this occurs often and we are teary for a long time. How we process our grief also may be quite different. For some it’s by quiet reflection about the happy times we’ve had with the person we’ve lost, sometimes it anger, sometimes it’s making a compilation of photos, songs and things that were special to them. Doing this gives us something of them to hold onto for fear of forgetting what they looked like, or what was special to them. And how we adapt to their loss is different for each person too. For some they clear out the loved one’s belongings quickly trying to get rid of reminders, or they keep working or busy trying to distract themselves so their life keeps going and the changes don’t seem as noticeable. On occasion people keep everything just as it was, as a memorial, because they can’t face moving on with their life without them. In this situation it’s like they are treading time, not adjusting to the loss but functioning around it.
So sometimes grief is very noticeable for a long period, but not always very obvious or comes in bursts. Sometimes it has sharp edges that catch us off guard, but at other times it’s smooth as passes us by.
Just like beads that come in a large assortments of shapes, different lengths, colours that can be hardly noticeable, or showy or even iridescent or glow in the dark. And textures that can be soft and nice to touch such as velvety ones, whereas others could be hard with sharp edges. And their shape and size could be elongated, or miniscule so it’s hard to see, or irregular so you’re not sure how best to manage it.
So if grief was a bead, which sort is yours?