Our office often receives calls from family members that are concerned about the grieving style of another family member. We often hear statements such as, "I think they are on too much medication.", "I don't think they have cried since the funeral.", "They won't talk to me about 'the loved one'.", "They say they are fine, but I know that they aren't.", "They won't leave the house." The bottom line is - the grieving person isn't grieving the way someone else thinks that they should.
Read that last sentence out loud, several times if necessary. Does that sound right to you? It shouldn't! Why should someone else dictate how you react, feel and behave? They shouldn't! However, family members love each other and are naturally concerned for each other's well-being and safety. Being concerned for a family member doesn't make you a bad person, just a well-meaning person. So here are some things to think about before reacting to your loved one's grief.
1. Each person grieves in "their own unique way."
2. The relationship to the deceased may help determine the kind of grief reaction a person can experience. A parent who lost a child may experience a more prolonged and acute grief than a sibling who lost a sibling.
3. Each person goes through the Stages of Grief at their own pace. A mother may not be at the same stage as a daughter or son, and may never be.
4. Each person may have complicating factors, that another may not be aware of, that may make their grief last longer, or make them react differently to the loss than someone else would.
5. Men grieve differently than women. Children grieve differently than adults.
6. Some people are comfortable talking about their loved one and their grief, others are not.
7. Some people may be angry at God, their loved one, the medical community - some may not.
8. Some people may show outward signs of grieving (crying, talking, anger), others may keep their feelings focused internally (thinking, journaling, other activities done in private).
9. Some people find comfort in support groups, some prefer to "deal with things on their own."
10. Some may have "visions" of their loved ones, hear their voices, see them in dreams - and others may not.
The important thing to remember is that there is no wrong or right way to grieve. Each person has to do it in their own way. Each person will react and act differently depending on a lot of outside factors. Only a few of these factors were mentioned above, there are many, many others. If you are not sure if your loved one is grieving in a healthy way, call a grief specialist.
When in doubt, just let them know that you love them, care for them and are there for them.
Until next week, please be gentle with yourself.
P.S. If you have found this posting or previous postings helpful, please consider making a donation to The Bereavement Center. We are a non-profit organization that serves the community, and we operate solely on donations from families, clients and the community. As always, your donation will be greatly appreciated and acknowledged.