Grief is complicated. It’s unique to each and every one of us. No two people will process grief in exactly the same way, even if it’s for the same person or thing.
Why do people walk through the grief process differently? There are a variety of factors, some that are easy to detect, and others that are deep-rooted in who you are and in the person who was lost. These factors include:
1. The relationship you had with the person you lost. If you lost a loved one that you were close with — someone you confided in or spent a lot of time with — you’re likely going to miss those experiences. You’ll miss the friendship, the confidence and the shared interests.
On the contrary, if you lost a loved one that you had a strained relationship with, riddled with confrontations or small arguments, then you’ll likely grieve with feelings of guilt, regrets over not being able to reconcile before the passing, bitterness and disappointment.
2. Other losses you are currently experiencing. People often experience multiple lossessimultaneously. Losing a loved one might come at the same time as a divorce or the loss of a job. These additional feelings of loss will mix with your individual feelings of loss of a loved one, making it even more difficult to grieve as you try to decipher the different feelings.
3. People have different personalities, belief systems, life experiences, coping skills, support systems, intelligence, education levels, etc. This may seem obvious, but everything that has made you who you are today — the good, the bad and the ugly — affects your grief process. No two people are the same, and so no two people walk through grief the same way.
There are many, many more factors than those listed above, but these are just some of the things to keep in mind when experiencing or trying to understand grief. According to the Grief Recovery Institute, “There are no absolutes in grief. There are no reactions so universal that all, or even most, people will experience them. There is only one unalterable truth: All relationships are unique.”
If you’ve recently lost a loved one, and want to know more about grief support, contact theBereavement Coordinator at your local Crossroads Hospice office.
Mike Strick, MA
Bereavement Coordinator, Crossroads Hospice