Now What? Blindsided by Grief
Navigating the Ocean of Emotion
Accessing Wellbeing Within
Bonus Content

Lesson 7 Tools

Lesson Seven Tools

TOOL – Metaphor Maps

Body Part Metaphors

Head: My head aches. Where is this Heaviness, Tightness, Overthinking coming from?

Face: What am I afraid to face? What happens if I ask her toFace the music’?

Nose: Plain as the nose on my face. What are we sticking our nose into that is not ours to do? Ah, the nose knows.

Eye: You have a good eye for________. He was eyeing that with longing.

Neck: This is bowing my neck. Who or what in my life is a pain in the neck?

Shoulders: I am shouldering the weight of the world. What am I shouldering – our team, our marriage, our family, our world?

Throat: I can’t swallow because my throat is tight. What can’t you swallow any longer?

Chest: My heart is broken. My heart aches.  Who or What has broken your heart? What is the cause of your heart ache? What are you aching to be set free of/from?

Stomach: I can’t stomach this ____. This makes me sick to my stomach. I am so uncomfortable, my stomach is tied in knots. This is so creepy, I want to throw up.

Back: Middle – Oh we are back in the middle of this issue again. I was stabbed in the back. I don’t want to go back there. My back is without support. My life is unsupported.

Arms: Now that you are disarmed because the tightness has left, what do you want to have happen?

Hips: Hip along (hurry up). A Catch in my get-along (hip)

Bottom: She’s a real pain in the butt. He’s busstin’ my butt again.

Legs: Gives us a ‘leg up”

Feet: Dig in your heels. On your toes. Stand on our own two feet.

Body Sensation Metaphors

Pain: Who or what is the Pain in your neck?

Itch: What are you itching to do, to be, to have, to say, etc.?

Sneeze: This is nothing to sneeze at.

Cold: My feet are cold. What in your life gives you cold feet?

Hot: Hot under the collar.

Tight: Tight-lipped

Heavy: My heart is heavy.

Cramp: This puts a cramp in my style

Pinchy: What is being pinched off?

Up in the Air: Where in my life am I up in the air?

Body movement Metaphors

Hop: Let’s hop to it and get this done.

Skip: We can skip this step for now and move forward.

Jump: It could be disastrous if we jump ahead without a firm foundation.

Walk: Notice how your feet are connecting ot the floor as you walk slowly around the room.

Stand: What is it like now to stand on your own two feet?

Step: What is it like to step into this new awareness, idea, life?

March: March Forth/Fourth

Cross: If you cross me again… The weak leg is crossed over the strong one.

Dance: Dance to your own drum.

Run: Run out of time, money, space.

Jog: Jog your memory.

Skid: Skid out of control.

Skate: Skating on thin ice.

Body Senses Metaphors

Intuit: If we intuit the meaning of this image, it will guide us.

See: Can you see it on its way?

Watch: Watch your step. Watch your tone of voice. Watch it.

Smell: I smell a rat.

Taste: I can taste victory.

Hear: Can you hear me now? I hear you now. Once again, I am not heard.

Touch: I can nearly touch it, him, her.

Body Direction Metaphors

Right: What is the right thing to do, say, be? Right over there.

Left: What is left to do? It came out of left field. We were left out.

Front: Let’s be upfront with each other. Pulling up a front.

Back: We are back here again. The issue is back. Get off my back.

Up: He doesn’t know up from down. What’s up? Throw up.

Down: You look down and out. When my mind spirals down…

Upper: Stiff upper lip. What is uppermost in your mind right now?

Lower: Lower the booms. Lower than whale poop (ambergris).

Top: Over the top. To top it all off. If we check from top to bottom.

Bottom: We are at the bottom of the barrel. The bottom rung.

Straighten up: Straight up and fly right.

Curled up: All I want to do is curl up in a ball.

Open up: It is time to open up this can of worms.

Styles of Grief

What do we mean when we talk about a person’s style of grieving?

Each person will grieve in a unique way. There are many factors that will affect why and how a particular loss affects one person differently from another. One of these factors is the person’s grief style. The style refers to three different parts of the grief experience.

  1. The grief style affects how the person experiences the grief inside of themself.
  2. The grief style affects how the person will tend to express their grief.
  3. The grief style affects how an individual will cope with grief and what the person might do to help themself feel better or heal.

Is one style of grief better or more “healthy” than another style of grief?

People often have expectations about what grief is supposed to look like. In a given family or community, one style of grief may be undervalued, misunderstood, or dismissed as “not really grieving” or” grieving too much.” A person may even judge themself if their style of grief does not match their own expectations. What we found is that one style of grief is not better than another style of grief. Each style has its own strengths and its own challenges, and each style of grief can ultimately lead people toward healing.

Affective vs Intuitive Continuum

An individual’s style of grief can be more affective, more instrumental, or an equal blend of affective and instrumental. We are all somewhere on a continuum.

Affective Coping – emotions
●  Feeling based – want to be seen and heard

●  Communication based – expressing feelings

●  Connection based – closeness and community

Instrumental Coping – cognitive

● Thought based – reading, research, analysis

●  Action based – set goals, projects,

Affective Style

What Happens Inside

A person whose grief style is more affective will probably say that they experience their grief as a variety of very strong feelings or emotions. While the affective person will also have thoughts about the grief, most of their focus will be on these intense feelings. They may find that they cannot ignore the feelings and that they have difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly. They may feel that all of their physical and emotional energy is tied up in their grief, leaving little to spare for the demands of daily life.

How Grief is Expressed

Many people who are affective in their grief style feel that it is helpful to give expression to these feelings by talking about them or sharing them with others. They might do this by crying or telling the story of the death. Other people will perceive the affective griever as someone who is “really grieving”, because they may appear sad, depressed, confused, anxious, unable to concentrate, angry, etc. Other people may tell the affective griever to “hurry up and pull yourself together” because their intense feelings do not seem to resolve “quickly.”

What Helps

Many affective grievers find that they feel better by paying attention to their feelings, giving them expression, and seeking out opportunities to share with other people. A person whose style is more intuitive will often say that it felt good to “have a good cry” or to write out their feelings in a journal. They may find it difficult to concentrate and attend to normal activities, such as work or home life, so they may need to rely on other people for support with these things. Generally, it is not helpful for them to try to ignore their feelings or to be stoic and strong for the benefit of others.

Instrumental Style

What Happens Inside

A person whose grief style is more instrumental will describe their experience of grief as primarily occupying their thoughts. Instrumental grievers also have feelings, but they may experience them as less intense or overwhelming than the affective grievers. The instrumental person may wrestle most with trying to understand the loss and its meaning. Inside they may feel more anxious or restless.

How Grief is Expressed

The instrumental person may feel a greater than usual need to withdraw or to find quiet, where they can contemplate this significant loss and be alone with their feelings. While they may share their thoughts and feelings with another person, they are not likely to “have that good cry.” Instead of experiencing a sense of relief or release, having an intense cry may cause the instrumental person to feel more anxious, tense, or “out of control.” They may channel their feelings of restlessness or anxiety into increased activity. For example, they may focus on solving problems related to the loss, such as settling the estate. They may be complimented for how well they are handling the death. Sadly, instrumental grievers are often misunderstood, and others may accuse them of “not really grieving.” Other people may be unaware of the instrumental grievers internal experience and may misunderstand a grief process that looks so different on the outside.

What Helps

Rather than simply talking about their thoughts or feelings, instrumental grievers often feel better when they channel those thoughts and feelings into purposeful activity. They may create something to memorialize the one who died, like planting a memory garden or creating a scrapbook. Engaging in physical exercise or work may help the instrumental griever to decrease their anxiety or restlessness.

Information adapted from Doka, Kenneth J & Martin, Terry L (2000) Men Don’t Cry, Women Do. Philadelphia, Pa: Brunner/Mazel

Language in Grief Communication


  1. We communicate with Our Heads and Our Hearts. We often think in black-and-white terms as we try to regain control of our loss and grief. Difficulties in families, friends, workmates, and other settings are often based on misunderstandings in communication and may result in years of unnecessary hurt and conflict. Especially around grief, we respond intensely in two ways—by our thinking and by our feelings.

a. We respond by thinking with our heads—we think about the circumstances and wonder what more might happen, we project into the future, we think what can be done for safety, we try to make sense of what we see and hear, we wonder how we can get back into control in an uncontrollable situation.

b.  We respond by feelings with our hearts—we feel many emotions—anger, sadness, shock, unsafe, disbelief, fear, panic, disconnected, out of control, irritable, sorrow, despair, depression, worry, and more.

2. We can improve communications w/in Families, at our workplace, w/friends, in our churches and social gatherings by simple clarifications.

It is helpful to encourage groups of grievers and their helpers by identifying their mutual understanding of the terms associated with grief. Clarification will positively change the response of the listener in most cases.

Definition Exercise:

  1. “Please give your personal definition of terms by completing these sentences (Remember: “This is not a test. There are no wrong answers. Give your first thoughts.”):Loss is_________________    Death is ____________________

         Grief is ________________         Soul is ______________________

  1. Did these answers come from thinking (the head) or from feeling (the heart)? (Note: Some will be both. Remember this exercise when talking or listening to other grievers. Is this person talking about thoughts or about feelings?)

Information from the SBS, Inc. Facilitator Handbook- Used by Permission. 

Your Temperament May Influence Your Grief

Grief is an inside job. Understanding our personality type can be helpful.

Understanding why you are the way you are- no shame just awareness.

Look at temperament chart.