No right way to grieve

by Susan Wurtenberger, MS, LMSW, Grief Support Specialist

There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

There are no acceptable or unacceptable emotions.

There is no timeline for adjusting.

There is no prescribed way to cope.

Kansas City HospiceAm I doing this right? It’s a common question.

Your grief is your own, and, just like your uniqueness, grief is distinctive. The way you grieve is influenced by your personality, temperament, culture, and life history. The way others see you as a griever will look very different than that of a friend or family member.

There are two basic grief styles. It’s rare that someone is completely one specific type. It’s more likely that people fall somewhere in between. Identifying your own style helps you make choices consistent with your character to increase comfort and healing.

Intuitive Griever

An intuitive griever has strong emotional reactions. Expression mirrors emotion. Crying and exhaustion are common for this type of griever. Crying may provide the physical release that, although draining, may bring healing and relief. If you are an intuitive griever, you may find comfort in telling and retelling the story of your loved one to a trusted family member or friend. You might also benefit from a traditional support group to find connection with someone experiencing a similar loss.

Instrumental Griever

On the other end of the style spectrum is the instrumental griever, who may appear less expressive. This person may not outwardly cry, but rely on physical or thoughtful expression. Often this griever is solution-focused or task-oriented and may channel emotions in a very concrete manner. If you are an instrumental griever, working on a project in honor of your loved one may allow a healthy expression of grief. You might sometimes seek aloneness, reading on death and loss. You may seek to learn about a new role and what is required of you.
You may find a better fit in groups that are adventure or target-focused (such as single parenting or financial planning) than traditional support groups.

Your relationship with your loved one was like no other. Your grief is unique and your coping style should be consistent with your personality and temperament. Recognizing and respecting that everyone will process grief in their own way, frees you to choose an authentic strategy to bring comfort to your days. Finding your own path can be less overwhelming when you remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

About Us

The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. Our vision is that each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.

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