As we learn to navigate the world after the loss of a loved one, there is no one right path. Do men and women grieve differently? Do gender differences really exist? Dr. Kenneth Doka has described two types of grieving, intuitive and instrumental. The intuitive tends to be more associated with the female gender. Intuitive grievers are more outwardly emotional and support groups are often comforting. The instrumental grievers, attributed to the male gender, are described as more action and cognitively oriented, often grieving by delving into an activity. These styles are viewed as a continuum, but I see grieving as beyond gender. If we feel that our grieving style is not appropriate for our gender, then our suffering may be prolonged. The manner in which we communicate within our family and social communities will likely predict our grieving style. Ultimately, living without your loved one will forever impact your life. We will never “get over it”, but respecting the beauty and love in that relationship can facilitate cherishing other relationships. Whichever style you grieve, there is no right way, only your way. Honor yourself without judgement by embracing self-compassion.
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