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These past few months have given Sanctuary the unfortunate opportunity to learn to grieve together as Framily. Have you found yourself confused as to how another person in our community is grieving?

Everyone grieves and processes loss differently and understanding that can be the first step to learning to grieve together well. 

There are generally 3 types of coping styles when it comes to grief—Thinkers, Feelers, and Doers. 

  1. Thinkers want to process, analyze and break things down. They want to make meaning of their grief and might start to do this right away. They might process things more “internally” than others, or they may want to talk to others and analyze together. Thinkers might seek out books or articles to help them process. 
  2. Feelers are emotion-focused and generally good at seeking support. They do well when they’re in a safe environment and given permission to “feel their feelings," none of them bad! Creating this sort of compassionate community can help a Feeler as they process and cope.
  3. Doers are problem-focused and feel better when they have an assignment. It may help them to work with others on a to-do list, working toward a common goal. Processing grief for a Doer might look like doing the dishes at someone’s house, putting together a meal train, or organizing an event in memoriam of the person lost. 

Of course, anyone can move through multiple coping styles, but generally, people fall into one. It’s important to understand your own coping style so that you don’t get frustrated with how someone else is grieving.

For example, a Feeler might get frustrated with a Thinker wanting to jump into larger discussions of death/loss—a Feeler might not feel “ready” to do that.

A Doer might get frustrated with a Feeler thinking “Why are they spending so much time crying & talking through things when we could be working on [whatever task at hand]?”

A Thinker might judge a Doer for “jumping right into” organizing a memorial 5k race instead of sitting down and processing what has happened.

All judgments about another’s way of grieving are based on the incorrect presumption that your way of processing loss is the only way to walk through it.

A person’s culture also affects the way they grieve—this topic could take up an entirely separate blog post, but recognizing this reality also helps us grieve together well). Galatians tells us to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”—what an opportunity we have right now to do just that. 

As we all walk with each other, especially during the holiday season, let’s strive to be a safe place for one another to “come as they are” in their grief and remember that we are not alone.