Grief is different for everyone. It would certainly be a lot easier if it followed a template, a predictable equation with numbers adding together to give a resulting value. That way even if someone else experienced the same equation they would experience the same grief.Oh, how easy that would be to grieve, if we had the answer to the equation.
Unfortunately, we all know that grief isn’t like that. Grief is an emotional response to the loss of someone or something that we had a connection to or a significant relationship with. Because each person is different, they experience a different relationship and therefore will respond differently to loss. An example of this can be seen in a family system. They all experienced the same loss but their responsesd will be different. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, there is just your way.
Family members will display different grief responses. For example, a spouse may distract themselves by overworking to avoid the loss. A child may need to talk about their loss frequently which may cause pain for other family members. A grandparent may experience a decrease in motivation to participate in their usual routine.
However, this does not mean that one family member is grieving right and the other is grieving wrong, it just means that they are grieving differently. Furthermore, it does not mean that one person cared more than another, it simply means that they are employing different coping mechanisms.
This is where the trouble lies with defining grief, differing responses. These different responses can be learned in childhood, or they can be a pride issue, it could be related to perceived gender responses or differing relationships. If a family member responds differently to you, it does not mean that they aren’t grieving too.
Grief takes courage. It involves an acceptance that we are not the only people right in our grief responses. It requires courage to enjoy the memories that we have of the past and to not let the bad memories or fears determine the plans we had made for the future.
The only certain thing that I know about grief is that it cannot be done alone, surround yourself with those who can share in the good memories that you have and find peace in knowing that they are sharing the grief journey with you.