Welcome back to this three-part grief and Enneagram series. To summarize why this series is so important let’s revisit an excerpt from the last post:
“Grief and Enneagram shadow work are very similar in their approach and application. In both instances, we wrestle with the unknown sides of life that indicate unacknowledged pain, confusion, or disruption to our path forward. Effective grief and Enneagram work provides a framework for understanding ourselves and embracing new ways of thinking about our lives and circumstances. The more we learn, the more we realize we are unique individuals. The nuance of our individuality causes our grief journey to be like a fingerprint. Even when some stereotypes apply, there is always a part of our spirit that needs a little more intention.
This journey allows us to cultivate the compassion needed to find movement through our pain. As you embrace the truth of grief in your life, you may find that learning more about your Enneagram type provides extra support.”
Today, I want to unpack three more type misconceptions and how they can lead us to incorrect assumptions about how we “should” feel and move through our grief stories. We already know that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for all. We can reckon with the stereotypical reactions in our enneagram types that act as easy excuses to avoid the deeper, more intimate work of pursuing healing in our grief.
Type Fours are known for being comfortable with melancholy and conflicting emotions and are often wonderful people for grievers to speak with when their own hearts cannot figure out how to survive a heavy loss.
Fours believe they are fundamentally different, which, in grief, can also lead them to spiral down a road of overthinking. They try to sort their emotions into a grief identity that makes sense yet remains unique.
But what we don’t often see in Type Fours is the propensity for forward motion. Grief is not about learning to move on; it’s about integrating our losses into our identity in a way that allows us to become more nuanced, intentional, and whole. There is no one more adept at adjusting to big, heavy emotions in an integrative way than Fours.
When they live in their heart center, Fours become witty, clever, insightful, and clear-minded. They work through grief productively, thinking intentionally rather than in a circular way. As a result, Fours begin to spiral upward with high energy and healing for themselves and others.
Type Fives are full of wisdom, depth, and intelligence. They look for depth with each question, perfectly delighted to chase ideas down whatever obscure path they find. Because Fives are typically introspective and thoughtful, we assume that grief is something they’ve sorted out. Perhaps Fives have learned how to detach from the pain and therefore experience no grief at all?
Not true. What really happens for a grieving Type Five is that their mental wheels spin faster than ever. You may perceive them as cold and calculated, yet Fives are truly empathetic, deeply attuned people. They search for answers to relieve suffering or lack, but that’s not something available in grief. Not truly.
When Fives are able to become embodied – really connecting to the center of who they are – they will find strength outside of knowledge. Type Fives who allow themselves to take action toward reintegration of their whole selves become authoritative, confident, and compassionate to others and themselves.
Once Type Fives accept a thoughtful path toward healing for themselves, they will become the leaders you always suspected they could become. Their emotional side will surface with intention and grounding, leading others to heal, as well.
Type Sixes aren’t strangers to thinking about grief – in fact, Sixes are hyper-aware of potential grief events and do all they can to minimize possible loss before it happens. Once introduced to their story, grief drives secure, steady Sixes into overdrive for resolution.
Then, natural cynicism surfaces, affirming their belief that all things are inherently untrustworthy. This draws Type Sixes further away from integration, where they would experience a settled spirit and an understanding of their secure place in the world, even when threatened by grief.
However, when Sixes embrace grief as truth, they gain new insight about the facts of their life circumstances. They acknowledge their lack of control in loss and recognize the grief in their life is not the end of the story. As they begin healing, their lighthearted, confident nature emerges.
Grief changes Sixes for the better, so long as they process their experiences as survivable. Not in a “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” platitude way, but through gaining soul-deep, inherent wisdom about the nature of life and loss.
Type Sixes long to express their free-spirited, lighthearted, fun side. When grief doesn’t destroy them, Sixes learn they can find a way to trust others and survive the most intimidating pain because life is so much richer than navigating around fear.
Mandy Capehart is an author, speaker, and certified grief and life coach in the Pacific Northwest. She is the founder of The Restorative Grief Project, an online community of grievers and grief supporters looking for movement while they heal. Her first book is titled, “Restorative Grief: Embracing our losses without losing ourselves,” released in 2021. This is a memoir and 31 day guidebook for managing grief and growth in the aftermath of loss, no matter how long it lasts. You can hear more about her grief work on her podcast, Restorative Grief with Mandy Capehart. She also co-hosts The Uncomfortable Grace Podcast, where space is held for growth amid the messy middle-parts of life.