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Orlando, Florida
407-791-7989

MICHELLE SMITH

GRIEVING  STYLES

Men and women most often grieve differently. Men may feel they need to remain strong for their partner, and their grief may be silent or delayed for months. It is said that mothers grieve the first year, and fathers grieve the second. Please note that the following are the common ways that men and women express their grief. These tendencies may or may not be true for your partner or you. Although grief is a universal experience, no two people grieve the same. Like a snowflake, each person's grief has unique characteristics all its own. Grieving styles can also be thought as Intuitive and Instrumental.

Birth Ease

Baby Loss Support

             INSTRUMENTAL  STYLE

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  • experience loss intellectually

  • less intense feelings

  • hesitant to share, may express anger

  • activity, task oriented. 

  • do not feel a sense of failure

  • focus blame externally

  • feel little guilt, if any

  • use aggression to express anger

  • mask fear and insecurity

  • feel disconnected from the loss

  • feel the expectation to be strong

  • become a grief manager for himself and his partner

  • do not want to talk about the loss

  • keep feelings/emotions directed inward or discuss them privately

  • become more active and return to work and normal life sooner (as society expects them to), and may use their jobs to work through their grief. At home men may find new projects to focus on and spend lots of time working in the yard, on the house, etc as they process the loss.

  • “handle” upsetting feelings and not experience their pain

  • do not seek the comfort of others and grieve solitarily 

  • feel less supported by others than their partner

  • process through logic and thought instead of feelings and emotion

  • be attracted to sex

  • grieve instead of mourn

             INTUITIVE  STYLE

  • experience loss as feelings

  • need to share

  • may lack energy or drive. 

  • feel a sense of failure—mother’s often feel it was her job to protect her baby

  • focus blame towards oneself

  • experience guilt that is at times overwhelming

  • express anger as guilt

  • feel a greater sense of connectedness to the baby

  • question her partner’s love for the baby

  • feel betrayed and abandoned by her body and her femininity. She may feel her identity as a woman is threatened.

  • want to talk about the loss

  • express her feelings openly and freely

  • become more immobile often wanting to just stay in bed or home, withdraw from life around them to be with her grief 

  • have more need to experience their pain and experience it longer

  • seek the comfort, advice, and counsel of others more

  • receive more approval for mourning from society

  • process through feelings and emotion instead of through logic and thought

  • refrain from sex 

  • mourn instead of grieve

TIPS  FOR  GRIEVING  COUPLES

  • Your partner and you will grieve differently. Everyone grieves in their own unique way, as well as at their own depth and pace. Releasing the assumption or expectation that you will or should grieve in the same manner will help prevent hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Because your partner grieves differently than you does not mean they do not love the baby or feel the loss as much as you do. Remember that grief is a process and it takes work—not just time. Respectfully allow your partner and yourself to each do the work of working through the loss of your child in your own individual way.  

  • Understand that the death of your child will hurt more than you ever imagined. It rearranges your life and forever changes your worldview. You both have been changed by the loss of your baby, and your relationship will be stretched farther and in ways that did not seem possible.

  • Increase the amount of time that you spend together, and listen to one another as deeply and as much as you can. You may want to plan a 20 minute period every day in which you sit and talk about your feelings. Discussing your emotions daily may prevent the grief and mourning process from becoming a pervading climate in your home. Find ways to show one another you care. Learn one another’s Love Language.

  • Honor one another in your grief and remember that each of your needs are different. Share with your partner what your needs are as work through the loss of baby, as your hopes and dreams you had for the future and your child. 

  • Understand that you can not meet all of your partner’s needs, nor, they all of yours. This is an unfair and unrealistic expectation present in many relationships, and it is impossible to meet when you are experiencing the loss of your baby. You are both overwhelmed and overextended. Please find appropriate outside support when you need it. Conversely, if your partner needs outside support, please refrain from criticizing them.

  • You are not alone in your grief. Other parents have been through this experience of baby loss. There are wonderful support groups out there, and if you have friends that have lost a child, they can be a source of understanding and compassion like no other.

 

  • Moms: your partner may grieve in ways that are foreign to you. Please understand that this does not mean that he doesn’t care about the baby or you. Ask him what he does with his sadness, anger, guilt, and pain. Remember you are both hurting and will feel it and express it in different ways.

  • Dads: if your partner needs to talk to about the baby and her grief more than you can absorb, encourage and support her in finding additional sources to talk. Show her you care in other ways. Steer clear of the judgment trap that she or you aren’t doing it right. Avoid trying to get her through the grief process easier or faster.

  • Some couples find it helpful to have a candle they can light to let their partner know that they are having a particularly difficult day dealing with the loss. This helps to prevent misunderstandings and miscommunication.

  • It is strongly suggested to avoid making any major life decisions such as moving, money matters, etc. unless absolutely necessary during the early stages of grief when judgment is cloudy.

  • Always remember that life will become meaningful again. That is now your task, not getting back to the way you were before the loss of your child, but moving forward in your relationship. You will be creating a new normal for your life and your relationship.

  • You are still parents. Much of your task is learning how to continue to parent a child a child that isn’t with you physically.

This information is sited from the work of Gary Vogel, M.A., N.C.C., 1998 Facilitator for Florida Hospital's H.E.A.L. support group