With nearly 1000 people dying each day in the United States due to the Corona Virus pandemic, most of us know someone who has died within the past year—and that number doesn’t include other causes of death.
The first death I faced in 2020 was my mother’s. In July, she succumbed to the combined impacts of a stroke, heart attack and old age (she was 92). Shortly thereafter, a friend lost her life to Covid. In November, one of my dearest friends lost her husband to pneumonia—a result of Covid. Prior to these experiences I have largely been spared a lot of close impacts from death.
With the loss of life hitting close to home in 2020, I observed how a person’s Personality plays out in their response/grief.
My Personality is about 50% the Powerful Choleric, or Red, and 50% Popular Sanguine, or Yellow, Personality. My mother’s Personally blend was very similar—with, perhaps, a bit more of the Yellow. I knew, she’d want her service to more of a party. She was hospitalized for 8 weeks before she came home and hospice came in. She died 5 days later. I had of time to prepare—both emotionally and logistically.
When the end was inevitable, my girlfriends all wanted to know what they could do to help. I was quick to tell them that I would handle the service, but I asked them to make, what I called, the Send-Off Party happen. They did! They made plans, cooked, assigned and/or ordered other menu sections. They ordered rental tables and linens and arranged for flowers. We live-streamed the service. The day was beautiful and went off without a hitch.
My friend who died from Covid was not a close friend and I was not involved in any of the planning. But when my girlfriend’s husband, who was also a friend of mine, died, I was right there. Because I know her Personality: strongly Powerful Choleric, or Red, with some Perfect Melancholy, or Blue, I was able to help, and guide our friends, with that knowledge. Specifically, she wants to stay busy! She doesn’t want to be fussed over. She doesn’t want a lot of hugs. She doesn’t want to be treated with kid gloves. (When her previous husband died from cancer, she stayed in the house for nearly 6 months—which she realizes was not a good choice for her.) One week after his death, she announced that she was getting back to the nonprofit work in which she and her husband were very involved. She is on the Board of Directors.
A week after the funeral—which he had all organized down to the songs he wanted sung, several of us girlfriends had a progressive couple’s dinner. I was tasked with asking her if she wanted to join us. Of course! It was then that she told me about her previous experience, and she asked: “What am I going to do? Just sit home every day?”
Another friend, a Peaceful Phlegmatic, Green, with a good bit of Popular Sanguine, Yellow, told me that her mother’s death was hard on her–though she didn’t cry or let people know how distraught she was. In the days following her mothers death, she was so grateful that her mother’s friend came in and directed who came and went, and recorded who brought food, etc. As she was mentally and emotionally exhausted, she appreciated the woman who stepped in and filled the gap and organized.
Of course, if an individual doesn’t think through what the grieving friend actually needs based on his or her Personality, we will naturally respond from our own base of need. For example, the Popular Sanguine, Yellow, will want to gather and have parties to keep the grieving person busy. By comparison, the Perfect Melancholy, Blue, may call with suggestions for grief counseling. The Powerful Choleric, Red, steps in and takes control–whether or not it is needed. The Peaceful Phlegmatic, Green, goes along with what ever the others suggest.
This gives you an idea of how an understanding of The Personalities played out in real life—and how I got interested in looking at the topic of how The Personalities respond to death/grief. With the help of many of our Certified Personality Trainers, we’ve put together this quick-view chart. One important element not expressed through the chart is that the opposite squares have some emotional elements in common. Both the Popular Sanguine, or Yellow, and the Perfect Melancholy, or Blue, are emotional and, hence, are more prone to tears and expression. While the Powerful Choleric, or Red, and the Peaceful Phlegmatic, or Green, tend to be unemotional—viewing tears as a sign of weakness.
Of course, there are many aspects of grief and everyone’s journey is individual and is impacted by many elements. But as you look at your personal grief experiences, I believe you will find the basic concepts presented in this graphic to be generally accurate.
As you, your friends and/or family members face the loss of life, we hope this graphic (in the standard “squares” format) will clarify that a person’s Personality definitely impacts how he/she will respond/grieve. And, that how you can best help them is also influenced by the individual’s Personality type.