Three Frequently Misunderstood Stereotypes of How People Grieve
1 – Calm as Ice
If some family or friends are calmly making arrangements without obviously expressing grief, or express that they don’t understand why another family member cannot stop sobbing, it is tempting to think they don’t care or must be without feeling.
Actually this person may just be most comfortable expressing their loss by helping others through getting and analyzing details and needs. They long to make informed decisions and take appropriate action. They are calm and extremely helpful to other personalities in times of emotional upheaval. Yet those very helpful qualities we admire can also be viewed (unfairly) as cold, uncaring or without feeling.
This personality can be encouraged by expressing how their actions show a great respect, or love, or loss of the loved one, and are appreciated.
2 – Overwhelmed
This person will likely display the full gamut of emotions and often will think no one understands what they are feeling. They get frustrated with themselves because they are feeling so much at once.
These very sensitive personalities feel strong emotions deeply, and may seem to the analytical personality to be less likely to be able to rationalize or intellectualize the pain of grief. Yet they are often the ones who can understand and help those who appear to be unable to comprehend the loss (too young, too old, too ill).
These people often best relate to statements rather than questions like, I’m sorry for your loss – I’m here for you – What great love you must have had.
3 – Superman – WonderWoman
Those who have been raised to believe ‘real men’ or ‘strong people’ don’t cry can be conflicted between what they feel and what they think is appropriate to express. They struggle to hide their true feelings and emotions because they have been taught a public image of strength that must never be unveiled to be emotional. Even though many of these people feel both the grief and emotions and the pull to keep their grief private they are often at a loss to express themselves. A resulting effect is to feel very guilty for feeling differently than what is expected of them.
This personality can often be encouraged by receiving a memento, a note about a particular memory, or a photo the family might not have.
I’ve not yet met any one of these personalities who do not appreciate a card or note, or memory of their loved one in the months after the initial grief. Don’t hesitate to send it if you think you don’t know what to write. A simple thinking of you cards with your name can lift their spirits greatly.