Thursday, February 26, 2009

What's Your Emotional Voltage?

Who hasn’t felt the sharp zap of static electricity as someone comes across the room and touches you? We learned as children that you can build up this electrical charge by scuffing your feet on the floor. The more scuffs you make, the bigger the shock. So there are small insignificant shocks or big, sometimes painful, shocks.

What we feel when someone dies is very similar. Some grief feelings are small. Not really insignificant, but one is able to function normally, and others observing this individual may not even realize that this person had experienced a loss. Some grief feelings are HUGE! Incapacitating! There is no mistaking that the person having these feelings has lost someone, and there is no mistaking that their feelings are so enormous, they have the inability to hide them.

Some people don’t understand why some seem to cope better in grief than others. Some families don’t understand why one family member is coping differently than the rest of the family. Some people have certain expectations on what it is to grieve and are frustrated and disappointed that they aren’t grieving the “right way.” Some people feel so frustrated with their grief response that they feel like they are going crazy.

Why are there so many different grief responses? One of the reasons can be our relationship, our “emotional voltage,” to the person who died. How connected were we to this person? Were they an acquaintance that we saw maybe twice a year or were they your best friend? Were they a grandparent or were they your spouse? Were they your employer or were they your pet?

We have many different relationships with the many different people in our lives and our emotional voltage to each one is just as different. Knowing this can help explain why a surviving spouse may be grieving differently than the children in the family. Or it may help explain why siblings may be reacting to the loss each in different ways than the other.

If you find yourself grieving differently than those around you, ask yourself, “What is my emotional voltage?”

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