Ways People Grieve — Dissecting the Way People Deal with Grief
by Taylor Evans March 16, 2023 4 min read
Losing a family member or friend is difficult, butpeople also grieve for other important loved ones in their lives: pets. With an overwhelming number of people buying pet cremation urns, it’s clear that people – men and women – are grieving for pets that die.
Understanding Grieving Styles
Grieving comes in many styles or forms. In fact, you may grieve one way for a person and another for a pet, or you can experience the same style of grief for both humans and pets.
Intuition is something we all have. Women and men have their own forms of intuitive grief. For many women, they’ll experience:
- Strong emotions
- Express their grief
- Explore their feelings
Often, women allow themselves to grieve. They'll cry, look depressed and show a strong sense of grief. There are also some women who will not react in this manner, and they will act in a way that is best described as instrumental grief. Men are normally instrumental grievers, too.
If you’re an instrumental griever, you do not like to sit and think about your emotions. For example, you would rather go out and select dog cremation urns immediately rather than think about the multiple options available.
Being with your emotions isn’t something you want if you’re an instrumental griever.
Instead, you’ll do two things:
- Think (briefly)
These individuals may not cry about the loss of their pets, but the memories of their lost animal will always be on their minds. The person will think of their pet often. Artists, poets, writers and the like are often instrumental grievers.
They direct their energy into their work through doing. It's not that the person isn’t sad or upset about the loss, but the only way that they know how to ease the pain is by keeping themselves busy.
Other Forms of Grief
If you’re not an intuitive or instrumental griever, you may be in the middle as a sort of blended form of grief. For example, you may have moments where you put yourself in the middle of projects and spend your time doing as an instrumental form of grief.
However, you may break down in tears when you come home and you don’t have your animal running up to you to show love or see their empty food bowl on the floor.
And that’s perfectly acceptable.
People of all ages have multiple forms of grief. Your pain may be intense and long-lasting, or maybe it’s short-term. For example, you may come to the self-realization that your pet had a medical illness that caused them a lot of pain.
In this case, perhaps you’ve come to the conclusion that your pet is no longer suffering and that helps you get through your grief.
How to Support Grieving Loved Ones
Supporting a grieving person is unique in every situation. You'll need to take a tactful approach to helping your loved one cope with the loss of their pet. A few effective ways you can lend support include:
- Show understanding: Keep in mind that loss impacts everyone differently. You may not fully understand the person’s attachment to their animal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grasp the pain they’re feeling. Be there for the person and validate their feelings.
- Help the person to start “doing:” Distress causes many pet owners to wallow in their sorrow, and they often need help to “lift them up.” For example, help the person pick out paw print cremation urns and plan for scattering the animal’s ashes or where they would like to put their ashes.
- Get the person out of the house: “Doing” may or may not mean that the person is getting out of the house. Homes often feel empty when our furry friends are no longer running amuck and demanding our attention. Ask the person to go out for a walk or to the movies or to dinner. Taking the person’s mind off of the loss will surely help alleviate the immense sadness the person is feeling.
Animals offer their owners loyalty, love and attention. For many people, their pets are there during the hardest times in their lives. While a person’s pet may not be able to speak in words, being there for their owner during life’s trials is priceless. You may not be able to relive those moments with the person, but you can support them by listening to their problems and providing friendship.
In addition, if the person wants to get a new pet to help them with their grieving, you can offer to go with them or buy their new pet a toy, collar or other items that they may need.
How to Help Intuitive Grievers
An intuitive griever is a person who needs friends and family around. You will want to be a shoulder for the person to cry on, offer them support, call them and allow them to express their feelings.
If you and the person are part of the same social group, they will also benefit from groups meetings and having that sense of community.
Supportive groups and communities allow these individuals to overcome their grief and are what they need at this emotional time in life.
How to Help Instrumental Grievers
An instrumental griever is likely more private. These individuals want to be alone and need their own time and space. You'll find that you can offer your love and support, but these individuals may not show you the same gratitude as an intuitive griever. Instead, they will realize the support that you provided in the weeks and months ahead.
However, you can ask this person if they need anything and if there’s anything that they need.
Everyone grieves for their animals in their own way. Someone may try to fill the void with a new pet, but others will remain in intense sadness for quite some time. Just offering to be a person that they can talk to and helping them get out of the house can help someone deal with the grief they’re experiencing.
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