I see clients in my counselling practice who are feeling judged for how they are grieving. They are not just judged by others, they judge themselves harshly as well. Perhaps they are very emotional and seeking support, or maybe they are coping with their grief by being active.
The issue of understanding how you grieve is particularly important when couples, or family members are grieving in different ways and are not feeling supported by each other.
Doka and Martin (2010) have proposed a model of grieving styles that may help individuals understand themselves and aid more understanding of others. The model also informs me as a counsellor to design interventions suitable to your grieving style.
The model suggests grieving styles (including how we express and experience grief, and how we adapt to loss) are on a continuum from intuitive to instrumental. Styles can also be blended.
By Intuitive Griever they mean:
- Express: More emotion is shown
- Experience: Grief is experienced mostly as painful feelings
- Adapt to Loss: There is a need to share feelings with others
By Instrumental Griever they mean:
- Express: More thinking and cognitive work is done
- Experience: Grief is experienced intellectually
- Adapt to Loss: There is a need to convert energy to activity or problem solving.
Grief and grieving can be interrupted if you are one style, but are compelled to express or adapt to loss in ways which don’t match your inner experience.
For example a man or a woman may be an intuitive griever, but because of family or societal pressure, may feel the need to ‘man up’ and supress their feelings.
Counselling can help individuals, couples and family members understand each other’s grieving styles, and normalise and validate your own experience of grief. Counselling interventions can also be tailored to your grieving style.
If how you are experiencing grief in a way that you find yourself judging how you are, then consider making an appointment with a counsellor who specialises in grief and bereavement work. Make an appointment with Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling, in her rooms in Remuera, Auckland.
Doka, K.J. PhD and Martin, T. L. PhD (2010) Grieving Styles: Gender and Grief. Grief Matters, Winter 2011. Vol.14:2, pp42-45.