My Grief Care

Foundations Of Grief

14 Episodes

Episode 3 : People Grieve Differently


Episode Notes

People Grieve Differently

People may not always express their grief in the same manner. If you’re unhappy but a close family member appears unaffected, it’s easy to believe they ‘don’t care.’ However, we cope with grief in our own unique way – even if we are sharing the same loss – and sometimes this can lead to frustration, disappointment and resentment as we judge the way someone else is grieving or someone is judging the way we are grieving.

Grief might be compared to snowflakes or fingerprints; each person’s grief is both personal and unique.

Grief may be a profoundly emotional experience; you may feel a range of feelings, including anger, remorse, loneliness, grief, and longing for the person who has gone. Your grieving expression may reflect these inner thoughts through tears, wrath, or withdrawal, and many individuals find it beneficial to express and explore these emotions.

Others may experience less profound grief. You or someone you care about may display sadness in a more cognitive manner, frequently thinking about the person. These sorts of grievers may find it beneficial to get involved in projects such as maintaining a scholarship fund in memory of the deceased. These various methods or patterns of mourning are exactly that: varied. There is no better or worse pattern. They are merely manifestations of the truth that everyone copes with loss in their own unique manner.

This may be problematic when there is a failure to recognize that people deal with loss in various ways, even within the same family. Differences in mourning patterns are just that; they do not reflect differences in affection for the deceased. Different ways of mourning do not have to be a source of contention. In fact, complementary coping strategies may be a source of strength.

Different grieving styles often show up with parents who have lost a child and it can cause a serious problem in their relationship as they may be hurt or angry that the other person doesn’t grieve in the same way. They can think the person is not grieving or not grieving correctly.  One might be very emotional and expressive while the other is closed, quiet and withdrawn.  I assure you, they are both hurting.  I had clients where the father had to go to the gravesite of their daughter every day for months and he couldn’t believe his wife would not go.  Didn’t she care?  Of course she did.  She found that too painful but she missed their daughter just as much.  Can you imagine how tough that is – losing a precious child and then being hurt or resentful because you think the other parent isn’t hurting like you are or you don’t understand their reaction?

Grieving is a complicated and tough process. While it may appear to many that mourning is associated with great sadness, grief is much more than that. The way a person experiences grief is influenced by a number of factors, including their coping mechanisms, cultural norms, and support systems; in addition, factors such as the circumstances of the death and the person’s relationship with the deceased play an important role in determining how they respond to loss.


While losing someone and experiencing sadness is something that all of us experience, the manner we deal with it varies. Remember not to pass judgment on others around you if they do not show their sadness in the way you deem suitable. And remember not to judge the way you grieve either.   We all grieve in our own unique ways.


Are you judging someone else’s grief or feeling judged for your grief? If so, please give the other person and yourself grace. Take note of the way you may be grieving differently and respect the differences. Don’t try to change them.


We grieve the way we grieve, whether that makes sense to anyone else or not.