While people navigate the different cycles of grief with different GPS systems, I’ve recently discovered that there are also three kinds of grievers: the intuitive type, the instrumental type, and the blended. The intuitive grievers focus on their pain and they wear it on their sleeve. They are lethargic, paralyzed, often become sick and have little to no self-care. The instrumental grievers are focused on the cognitive. They are actively doing tasks, have more energy, function better and might even be the “go to” person during funeral arrangements. Finally, there are the blended grievers (like myself) who have characteristics common to both patterns and generally can benefit from a variety of strategies to help them cope. When my mother was dying four years ago, I didn’t have the luxury of time to prepare much. I had two days and two nights to think, be by her side, and wait. My pain was excruciating at times; my broken heart void of any consolation. Yet, there were practical things to do. Planning a funeral. Picking out clothes. Calling family and friends to alert them. Planning a second memorial service. At times, the tears welled up or the sobs unleashed. Most times, however, I carried on, and just “did” the next right thing. Months later, it all came tumbling down and I sought the help of a grief counselor, who for a year helped me sort through my loss and actually unpeel layers of past pain.
How about you? Are you an intuitive griever, paralyzed or stuck and lacking self-care? Or are you an instrumental griever, checking things off the necessary “to do” checklist, but maybe skipping the need to share your loss with someone else? Either way, there is hope. Grief coaches and counselors are here. More importantly, God is near.
Dr. Paul Tripp said, “There are only two things I can do in respect to God in a time of grief: I can moved toward Him or I can move away from Him.”
The prophet Jeremiah said, “I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” He was speaking about God, the only One who can truly comfort us.
Next Up: Breaking the Cycles of Grief