As a Certified Personality Trainer, I spend hours researching, observing, and analyzing human behavior. And there’s nothing like a tragedy to throw us tumbling into our base character traits. As my own family struggles to make sense of a shocking and painful situation, I’m struck again at the variety in which humans process grief while they mourn losses of jobs, homes, marriages, friendships, and ultimately deaths.
I’m also reminded of how those differences can create conflict. Either subliminal, or blatant.
Logically, we realize different people express their grief in different ways. But we still assess, assume, and judge others when they show their emotions in contrast to how we might do so ourselves. This can magnify raw emotions raging beneath the thin-skins we wear during pain-filled crisis.
Human personality definitely affects how we react when a grim reaper comes knocking on our door to deliver unwanted news. Using the Littauer model for labeling the four basic personalities, helps me understand how and why we all behave the way we do under horrific emotional stress. It also shows me the path to grace, for someone who’s different from me.
Below I’m sharing a brief synopsis of how each type copes. Not only do I hope you might recognize yourself, but I hope you might better understand someone who mourns in opposite ways from you.
Peaceful Personality Under the Stress of Grief
This group typically crawls deeper inside their own shells. As an extreme introvert, they prefer quiet, solitude, and prefer not to talk about their pain. Some become paralyzed, unable to do the most menial of tasks. They also exercise a dry, witty response, sometimes their attempts to cover with humor are seen as disrespectful. Laughter is a coping, and healing mechanism. Often they are unable to eat. This personality is often accused of being inappropriate and tactless.
Perfect Personality Under the Stress of Grief
Another introvert prone to grieve inwardly, they process their pain privately, and quietly. Some need to relive in vivid detail, but only with those closest to them. Their obsession with knowing all the facts can sometimes be seen as morbid behavior. They are turned off by anything but the most deeply reverent behavior, and can make cutting remarks if others don’t meet their approved way of reacting. The thought of food can make them feel nauseous. This persoality is often accused of being cold and unfeeling.
Powerful Personality Under the Stress of Grief
The extroverted powerful type stays busy under pressure, unable to sit still. Telling them to relax is like telling them not to breathe. By taking charge of chores, they process their grief in practical ways. This group takes control of what they can, when their world spins painfully out of control. Their blunt character can bite others with harsh words, especially when barking orders, without realizing their doing it. They will cry, but normally attempt to hide their weakness from others. This personality is often accused of being bossy and stern.
Popular Personality Under the Stress of Grief
This extroverted personality grieves outwardly, expressing a compulsive need to get their mournful feelings out. Crying publicly, Facebooking their thoughts, and trying to please others with their helpful offerings. They laugh as they share memories, but in the next moment can crumble into a sobbing mass at the slightest trigger. This is the most openly emotional personality of all the types. They try to fill their pain by feeding a constant gnawing hunger in their gut. This particular personality is often accused of being careless and an attention-getter.
No two people are the same, but many of us share similar character traits. The ones I share here are generalities, and as with all groupings of this sort, there are exceptions. But one thing’s for sure, when we take the time and concern to understand others, it can lessen the weight of mourning. As I mourn during difficult days, I hope to remain mindful of the healing needs of others. After all, we’re all in pain, even when we wear different faces of grief.
Have you ever misdirected your anger, a natural emotion in the grieving process, toward people who don’t behave exactly as you?
Anita Fresh Faith
Proverbs 14:13 (NIV)
Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief.
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business and Inspirational Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Productivity Expert, Certified Training Facilitator, Communications Specialist, and national speaker. Anita is also the author of, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market. Now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, Lifeway, Christianbook.com, plus many fine stores, Christian and otherwise.
She’s a partner in The Zenith Zone, a business coaching firm. Member of the Christian Writer’s Guild, Toastmasters, and a client of WordServe Literary Group. A graduate of CLASSeminars for Leaders, Speakers, and Authors, a co-founder of The StoryWriting Studio, and speaker on circuit for Stonecroft International Ministries. Anita co-hosts a weekly podcast, Engaging Life and Leadership with Darren Dake, available on iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcast platforms.
Anita is passionate about business with integrity, healthy relationships, and issues of identity. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research. She believes it’s never too late for a fresh start with fresh faith.
Her favorite past time is lounging by a river or lake in Missouri, laughing with with her husband of thirty years, Ricky.