Recently an accident befell someone in my family and while thankfully, there was no loss of life or any permanent damage, it was serious enough to stir a multitude of unwanted thoughts in my mind. Not wanting to entertain them and be the bearer of bad vibes, I kept it to myself and found myself slowly detaching from the situation at hand.

Once my heart and sentiments were set aside, my mind went into full gear and I saw around me all the different coping mechanisms present and working overtime to help their owners process the pain threatening to overwhelm them. While full-on grieving wasn’t called for, it was definitely present; watching from the sidelines, threatening to push open the floodgates at a moment’s notice and trigger a chain reaction. While sadness is a given, here are some of the other different ways people grieve:

The “Host”

These people divert all their attention and energy into being the perfect host while trying their best to ignore the real situation at hand. When visitors come to show their concern and pay their respects, the “host” can be seen rushing around with food in their hand, smiling and entertaining while offering empty chairs to anyone present. No hospital room is too crowded for them and any and all visitors are welcome to help them keep busy and their minds occupied.

The “Jokester”

The comedian is the one who always finds a way to crack a joke no matter the situation. Despite the danger of being seen as disrespectful and inappropriate, especially at the wrong time, sometimes it’s helpful to have someone lighten the already tense atmosphere. During funeral receptions, these comedians are often found in the kitchen with the aunties and grand-aunties laughing over an old story with a combination of sad and happy tears running down their cheeks. Often the people who lean towards this approach are searching for their own ways to be useful in a situation that cannot be helped.

The “Rager”

Often these ragers are the ones people avoid during grave situations, to be blunt. They’re the ones who sit in a corner exuding black vibes, ready to see red at the first sign of provocation. The sorrow and the helplessness that they feel is translated into a deep rooted anger that can only be satiated by laying blame unto someone or something. They spend their time pacing the rooms of their mind trying to find the root of the problem and the source of their grievances.

The One “In Denial”

The person in denial is one who refuses to face the nitty-gritty of the situation at hand. They pour their affections and devote all their time and attention unto the patient while closing their ears to everything around them. Their only focus is on the recovery of the sick and nothing else. Needless to say, despite their well-intentions of holding the patient’s hand on their journey to recovery, these people do not go well with “the rager”. Their passiveness in dealing with the grisly details of the reality of it all can be frustrating for someone like “the rager” who wants to nip the problem in the bud and ensure that it never happens again.

The “Silent” One

The silent types often mourn by themselves. By refusing to talk much or engage with the people around them, there’s usually a storm brewing in the stillness of their minds. Often mistaken as the “strong” ones during these situations, the only way to protect themselves from feeling hurt, resentment or anger is to curl up in a mind-numbing shell, impenetrable to any negative forces that threaten to break down this wall.

Personally, I’m a little bit of everything. Sometimes the gravity of the situation is so overwhelming that dealing with it practically feels like a twelve-step programme. But at the end of the day, it’s crucial to understand that everyone has their own ways of coping. Whether they crack jokes, sing songs or weep themselves into immobility, no matter how unconventional their approach is, never underestimate what others are going through.