There is no “good grief” or “bad grief”— there is only grief. Drs. Kenneth Doka and Terry Martin* suggest that there are two types of grievers: “instrumental” and “intuitive.” Neither type is deficient; only different. Understanding the difference can allow family members to empathize with, rather than attribute bad motives to, another family member.

It is critical, at this moment when the loved one is gone and the estate administration starts, that we seek to understand each family member’s grieving style, as how we act at this highly sensitive moment can lead to family harmony or fracture for years to come.

So, before you get mad at your sibling for wanting to “get it over with” or “not wanting to have anything to do with it,” try to understand your sibling’s grieving style, as it is this empathy for your sibling that can foster loving relationships in this difficult time.


Stephen B. Yim, Attorney at Law
2054 S. Beretania St., Honolulu HI 96826

808-524-0251  |  www.stephenyimestateplanning.com

*Drs. Kenneth Doka and Terry Martin, “Grieving styles: Gender and grief” Grief Matters Winter 2011, pp 42-45

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