"Everybody reacts differently to grief"

Discussion in 'General Information & Discussion' started by AlwaysShocked, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. AlwaysShocked

    AlwaysShocked New Member

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    I just heard a talking head say this AGAIN on Court TV. In fact, he said "juries know that everybody reacts differently to grief".

    This phrase seems to be a popular one among defense lawyers when trying to deflect suspicion from their "non-grief stricken spouse" murder suspect clients. (You'd think someone would clue these spouse murderers in that it might help to look a LITTLE upset after the death of the spouse!)

    Anyway, my question:

    Have any of you ever experienced or encountered a loved one who "reacted differently" from the expected sadness, tearfulness, etc. upon the death of a loved one? How common is "inappropriate grief behavior", I wonder?
     
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  3. santos1014

    santos1014 Nana to Madelynn and Ethan

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    The only different reaction I have ever seen from a loved one was when my mother's father died. He had been so ill and suffering from dementia for so long and she had been taking care of him...all I saw from her, ever, was relief. For him and for herself.
    But, I think that would be a common reaction to have considering.
     
  4. Mr. E

    Mr. E New Member

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    I just attended a very short/brief seminar on grief, and according to that seminar, we all react in the same grief stages.

    To react "differently" to me is maybe to react inappropriately? Like Darlie Routier pouring silly string over her recently murdered son's grave?

    I'm sure their are variations on how we react -- staying in one stage for a long time, for instance -- but whenever I hear about someone reacting "differently," it always seems like that person is doing something inappropriate, like showing no emotion.

    Everybody I've ever known have passed through the same grief stages as discussed in the seminar.
     
  5. lisafremont

    lisafremont An open mind shouldn't mean an empty one!

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    Not only are there stages of grief as set down by-- I think--- Dr. Kubler-Ross, is it? a woman --- anyway, standard grief stages within human experience.

    And yes, I am sick of hearing this from the defense bar as well. Especially, if the opposite, that is, expected behavior was exhibited, then they were be trumeting it.

    It's like with SP and his being a "cad" with Amber Frey. That didn't make him a killer. No, but if he had been a loving, faithful husband THAT they would have said made him innocent!!!

    :banghead:
     
  6. opme

    opme New Member

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    A few years ago i saw my now father in law mourn the loss of his second wife from breast cancer. She had been ill for a very long time and he was her sole care taker. Even though it was a relief in one respect, he still went through the normal stages of grief. Though at first it was like he was subdued and very quiet. Never broke down and cried.. until after the funeral. Then I think the reality hit him like a ton of bricks. He could only maintain his stoicism for so long. Now my mom and my grandmother had a very difficult relationship and after her death.. she was all over the board. At one moment she was relieved and glad she was no longer the caretaker but in the next she would grieve as one would expect for a daughter who had lost her mom... despite their difficulties she still acutely felt the loss at times.

    I honestly think we all follow the same stages of grief but I think the times in which we spend in each vary greatly.. I think the defense attorneys created this theoryor strategy as a way to explain away their guilty clients behaviors..
     
  7. Taximom

    Taximom Former Member

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    I think guilty spouses act differently than innocent spouses, when there has been a murder. :D
     
  8. kgeaux

    kgeaux New Member

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    My husband and I are very private people......when my father in law died, we cried our eyes out behind closed doors. But out in public, you would never have known we were grieving. We just don't bare our emotions to the public.

    I have a friend whose son killed himself with a shotgun blast to the head. She didn't cry for months. She'd talk about how worried she was that she just couldn't seem to cry about his death. Apparently she was in shock, and months later the tears started.

    When a very dear friend from Africa died, her family and friends from her village threw themselves over the coffin and wailed, beat themselves upon the heart, tore at their hair. Not a tear in sight, it was more of a respected ritual from their culture.

    We are all different. Although I agree that most people go through the same stages of grief---is the first one denial?-----the timing in each stage can vary tremendously from person to person. And the way we each individually express those stages varies tremendously also. My way isn't right or wrong, it just is. And so is yours.
     
  9. FactsareFacts

    FactsareFacts Playground Monitor

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    Very Well said. How you grieve I believe also depends on how you are raised and how you saw others grieve around you as well. Religious and cultural differences also come into play. Your mental health most certainly effects the way you grieve too. We are not all the same and we react differently to various emotional and devastating occurances. On my side of the family for the most part you might say we grieve as "expected" and go thru the various stages according to how big of a role the deceased played in our lives. My husbands side of the family is very unemotional. The first few funerals I attended when we first got together seemed odd to me as barely a tear was shed by anyone. Now I am quite accustomed to this with his side. I don't think any one way is right or wrong. If you don't see what a person does behind closed doors when they are alone with there thoughts you have no way of knowing how they are grieving on the inside, which is where the grieving really takes place. IMO
     
  10. Amraann

    Amraann Former Member

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    I guess I was about age 11 or 12

    My stepgrandfather died.... I had never been to a funeral home before...
    I recall a center room surrounded by these other rooms that were open by arches..
    In the very first room as you walked into the funeral home there was a little girl who may have been about 7 or 8 ...
    Her family (it still seems odd to me) were all laughing and happy.
    As an adult I now understand that possibly this child suffered some horrible illness and her family was just relieved that it was over and chose to celebrate the joy she brought to their life rather then being sad.
     
  11. Vegas Bride

    Vegas Bride New Member

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    I'm a very private person and tend to hold in my feelings, possibly to much. When I was younger and my older brother died very unexpectedly I remember my mother being very critical of my father. They were both in shock and grieving but acting differently. My father actually wanted to eat food and my mother just could not understand how he could even think about food those first days after my brothers death.

    VB
     
  12. Julessleuther

    Julessleuther New Member

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    My mother was the same way with her father, my grandfather. He had been sick for 2 yrs, living with my parents, and it was hard on everyone. He was in alot of pain at the end, and when he finally passed, I think my mother felt relief too, that he was no longer in pain. I think it took a year for her to finally grieve him.
     
  13. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    I had a much beloved cat that suffered a long, debilitating illness until I felt I had to have her put down. On the day, I said such wildly inappropriate things to the vet and nurse (not unkind, just weirdly joking) that I called them later and apologized.

    Two days later I sat down to watch a rerun of "Law and Order" and remembered how the cat used to curl up with me and watch that show. The next thing I knew, my partner was helping me up off the floor. He had heard me sobbing from the opposite end of the house and found me in a fetal position on the floor.

    So, yeah, I'd say different people react differently to grief. For what it's worth, when I called to apologize, the vet and nurse said they see all kinds of different reactions to the death of pets.

    Personally, I don't put much stock into how defendants grieve or seem to not grieve.
     
  14. KT Can

    KT Can New Member

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    Yes, me. I have ALWAYS understood and given the benefit of the doubt to the people who publicly react differently than what one would expect - a la Darlie Routier. I'm not saying that I believe her to be innocent, I'm just saying that if she is innocent then I can empathize and somewhat understand her silly string actions at the grave. If not innocent, then I don't know.

    I reacted "differently" or "inappropriate" by some people's standards when I lost my 4 month old son in 1997. He questionably died from SIDS at his babysitter's house on my very first week back to work. I had two young children, 5 and 2 at the time, who witnessed the whole occurrence - the discovery, the CPR, the ambulance, the hospital, the detectives, the investigation, etc. - and when I looked down at them immediately after discovering my son and saw their little faces and realized that they were scared and freaking out because mom was freaking out I shut it off - all the tears, emotions, EVERYTHING. Just because I didn't cry at the memorial or graveside service, and just because I shared a little forced laughter with my good friends of 20 plus years who knew that a chuckle was just what I needed in such a serious and devastating situation DOES NOT mean that I didn't cry myself to sleep EVERY night and have nightmares and on and on and on for years and years following. I still deal with it even today, 10 years later. No one knows what goes on inside peoples hearts and minds and I think people's reaction to death depends on many factors including thier personality to begin with, be it easy going or uptight, how externally emotional or affectionate they were in their daily lives before, past experiences with death, spiritual beliefs, etc. My sister-n-law probably felt like a lot of you who don't buy the reasoning that everyone reacts differently to grief in that she actually accused me at my son's graveside service of not caring and of not having a heart or soul simply because I wasn't crying and because I had the nerve to exchange smiles with some of the attendees.
     
  15. Beyond Belief

    Beyond Belief New Member

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    The strange behavior I saw from the family of the first guy I was married too made me think there was something wrong with me. No visible tears. I tried to sit thru the church service and broke out in sobs. I ran from the church making a scene. They couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I don't know if they were cold or just held their feeling in. I divorced the guy and the family.
     
  16. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    At the age of 20 my brother was killed in a car accident. It was a shock and of course totally unexpected. And yes at the funeral everybody cried. But what I remember the most, was my father didn't talk. He just didn't talk.
    After the funeral and after everyone else left, we were at my mother's home, it was just family. My nephew talked about getting in trouble at school and we all laughed, hysterically.
    Afterwards, my mother spent hours in my brother's room and at his grave. She wanted to talk about what happened, about her memories, her fears and her feelings.
    My father would get up and leave the room whenever my brother's name was mentioned. He would not talk. He would not look at pictures or the guest book. A few months later my father was admitted to the hospital for a small overdose of his medications. I don't know if it was an accident or on purpose, but you know what I suspect.
    Do people react differently during grief? Yes. They all go through the same stages, and go through them at different times. But they go through them. But their response to the different stages is very different. One look at people doesn't really tell you whether their grief is real or not, but repeated inappropriateness shows. Some may just be quieter than usual, some may search for things from the past that made them happy or gave them good memories. Some cry, some wail, and yes some shop, become workaholics or do other activities to take their minds off their grief.
    And yes, cultural mores will influence how people grieve. Some have wakes where they tell stories about the people and their exploits and it isn't considered inappropriate to laugh (or to eat and drink). Some people sit vigils. Some have funerals and some have celebrations of life.
    And yes, defense attorney's often use that fact to excuse inappropriate behaviors by a defendant.
     
  17. julianne

    julianne Former Member

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    KTCan....

    I'm so sorry for your loss. And it makes me mad :furious: to read what your sister in law said to you.....how dare she!

    Everyone DOES grieve differently. That phrase may be used commonly as of late in courtrooms---but it's true. Sure, there may be certain stages of grief that we all go through, but a stage of grief surely doesn't dictate how one should or would act during that stage.

    A few years ago, my coworkers little 4 year old boy died. He had a brain tumor. Time of diagnosis until death was about 4 months!!!! They were a nice family--a young family with other children, and religious. He fell one day & they went to the ER and got a CT scan, but the tumor was overlooked until a full 2 months later, when he had fallen again and another CT was performed. There was a chance that if the tumor was detected initially, the outcome could've been different. Anyway, I went to the funeral, and I was devastated upon seeing his little body in the caskeet. I bawled and bawled and was truly HEARTBROKEN for this family. It was crushing. The parents both spoke at the funeral----they didn't shed a tear. In fact, the Dad said that this was a happy day for him because his little boy was with God now. They smiled. There was really no obvious sign of grief about them--at all. Yet, I know they were heartbroken and were grieving internally, but they just didn't show it. Strange? I thought so---I found it incredible that they could have so much composure while I was falling apart. People just plain out DO grieve differently.
     
  18. kidzndogznme

    kidzndogznme A closed mouth gathers no foot

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    I come from a very abusive background. Over the years, even as a child, I can remember steeling myself not to cry because I felt that gave my abuser satisfaction in knowing I had been hurt. I now have a very difficult time crying in front of anyone....ever. My husband, my best friend, my kids, anyone. Sometimes I feel like I am going to explode and I can't even make myself cry. So people who see my at a loved one's funeral or watching a touching moment on TV might think I am unfeeling because I cannot or will not cry. It is like I go numb. I think that, in some ways, our upbringing or our life lessons, if you will, can shape how we present our emotions to the world. If the damage is substantial enough, I can imagine that a human being could quit caring at all.
     
  19. BhamMama

    BhamMama Former Member

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    I understand the silly string on the grave. My cousin D drowned when we were both 8 years old. The whole family was there that day and the following days when they hooked up up to machines, even though he was gone already.

    His mother, my aunt, did some things that might be considered strange to others. My one main memory is her having a birthday party for him that following Sept. Baked a cake and took it to his grave.

    Years later I asked her why she did that. She was a very open person and talked about him all the time so I felt safe asking about him. She said she didn't want him to think we'd forgotten him and she didn't want others to forget. That just because he wasn't here in the flesh didn't make him any less her son, or my cousin. I accept that.

    What is acceptable in society changes as well. Many years ago they use to pose the dead child with their living children and have pictures taken, or take pictures of them all dressed up laying on a sofa in the main room. I think that's gross but it's not different than many people taking pictures of people in caskets now...which I also think is freaky...but accept that some people are not as freaked out about it as I am.
     
  20. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    Thanks to everyone for sharing such personal stories. (KTCan, my jaw is on the floor after reading what your sister-in-law said. But I guess she was grieving, too, and while that doesn't make it okay, it may have helped to prompt such cruel behavior.)

    One more story from me, since I come from a family that handles grief very oddly:

    When I was 7, my next-door neighbor/best friend died suddenly and unexpectedly in the middle of the night. (It was never clear to me whether he died from an asthma attack or because he fell and hit his head on a cement floor during the attack.) I slept through the ambulance, police, etc.

    First thing the next morning when I awoke, my mother (no diplomat) told me straight out that Randy was dead. When I began to cry, she told me quite sharply that Randy could see me from heaven and would be upset if I cried. (We were devote Christians, so I took her words very literally.)

    A remark like that shuts up the grieving, I'll tell ya.
     
  21. oceanblueeyes

    oceanblueeyes New Member

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    I grieve deeply and it shows. I am always distraught and when someone I love or like very much passes away. I couldn't hold back my feelings even if I tried but I have never had the inclination to even do so. My family are ones who freely express their emotions. It really doesn't matter if it is a female or a male........ the tears flow.

    I cry for the ones who have passed away of course but I cry just as hard for the families that are left behind. I look at them and my eyes just overflows because I love each and everyone of them and I know what loss means and the pain it can bring.

    I have seen some men just as emotional as females. My grandfather was a broken man when my grandmother passed away. He just couldn't stop his never ending tears for the woman he had loved 65 years. It took months for him to come to peace with not having her anymore. He still visits her grave twice a week, leaving little angels on her grave.

    I even cry my heart out as I read here and other sites about the horrible things that happens to someone I dont even know.

    I do understand that others may not grieve as I do but I cannot visualize myself any other way. It is a part of me and who I am.

    IMO

    Ocean
     

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