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Styles of Grief

Day 42: Styles of Grief

We humans do better when we can name something, and one of the most maddening parts of grief is not always having words for our experience. Some terminology I introduce early on in people’s grief journey relates to styles of grieving. It is important to know that these styles are on a continuum, and I believe that from the time we are born, we tend towards one style or another.

Styles of grief is terminology coined by Terry Martin and Kenneth Doka in 2006, challenging the archaic notion of male v female grief. Their research observed that while sex and gender influenced grieving styles, they did not in and of themselves determine how someone would grieve.

Instrumental grief is the experience when grief is dominated by mental processing and thoughts. Folks who lean towards this style are innately drawn towards activity, tasks, projects, and typically return to work when many around them judge it as “too soon.” In some ways, instrumental grievers tend to be more internal in their process, and therefore, can be prone to more anxiety and physical pain in their grief. They are often thought of as “not grieving.”

Intuitive grievers tend to mirror their internal feelings outwardly. They need more time to adjust to their new reality—typically more time than society or work or others around them are comfortable providing and witnessing. Intuitive grievers are drawn towards connection and catharsis and sharing their experiences with their close people.

What style do you lean towards?

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