Grief & The Enneagram Part III: Guest Post by Mandy Capehart

“We have a choice in grief (and life) to encounter resistance with swords, anger, and all the spitfire within us. Or we can recognize a shift in our external lives as a chance to soften and surrender. As much as it pains me to affirm this, we are not in control of the world around us. We are only in control of how we navigate the waves from the helm of our ship.” – Mandy Capehart

It’s the final chapter of this three-part grief and Enneagram series! So far we’ve explored how 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, we’ll unpack Type Seven, Eight, and Nine misconceptions and how they can lead us to incorrect assumptions about how we “should” feel and move through our grief stories. 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 Seven

Type Sevens are all about chasing down a vibrant life, but their fear of pain and discomfort becomes front and center in grief. Their avoidant and coping behaviors shift into fifth gear, working overtime to keep the tender-hearted, overthinking Seven safe from emotional turmoil.

Grief and loss can amplify excitability, which feels dismissive and scary to observe. While most Sevens have animated, flighty, disconnected sides, Type Sevens can also be serious, quiet, and introverted.

When Sevens show their depth, people start to ask, “Are you okay?” yet have no idea what to do. Experiencing grief does not mean that a person needs distractions and adventures to heal; they need to be seen as valuable and worthy of love and attention, even when sad and heavyhearted.

The Sevens who know they are safe to fall apart and not demonstrate exuberance all the time will become one of the most loyal, committed, dedicated friends – especially if you’ve walked alongside them through one of the most emotionally trying times in their lives.

Type Eight

Type Eights probably seem least likely to deal well with grief, and that assumption is not too far off. For the average Eight, grief stirs up vulnerability and lack of control in the worst way possible. Eights see grief as just another mountain to overcome and can easily stuff the grief-y feelings to lead and demonstrate command – business as usual comes naturally to the Eight.

But the truth is, Eights need to let go more than any other number. Hidden within vulnerability is a true strength to lead. When Type Eights are grieving, we see their leadership style become more erratic, anxious, and detached. They’ve created another wall to protect themselves from appearing weak or incapable.

On the flip side, when Eights view their grief as an adversary worth challenging, they invite the difficult conversations with patience and grace. After the battle is waged, Eights begin to view grief as a constant truth of life and not an enemy.

These integrated, tender-hearted Eights look softer, kind, and invitational. They’ll start to ask for help because they’ve learned grief will not be strong-armed or intimidated to flee. These challengers know not all battles are meant to be won, but that also doesn’t mean you’ve lost.

Type Nine

Type Nines might seem like the most willing to hear your grief story and unpack the pain with you, but the truth is this number usually needs to retreat into their own pain, not carry yours. Nines are quick to protect their energy. Dealing with the grief of others is an excellent way to use their energy and avoid dealing with their own.

But when Nines decide to honor their boundaries, they suddenly become available to their pain. Independent of the opinion of others, they start to disentangle their mess of emotions and intense avoidance behaviors. Nines feel empowered; their grief is no longer an enemy but a familiar presence that does not make them want to run and hide.

Average Nines need quiet and rest, while integrated Nines are authoritative, calm, and even cheeky in their healing process. They know they can use their stillness and withdrawal as a source of strength and, in doing so, bring that level of stability to others for support. This becomes an energy reserve that doesn’t drain but invigorates. True peace ensues for all when Nines intentionally move toward stressful or grief-y situations instead of falling into them and hiding for days to follow.

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 a 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.

Follow Mandy on Twitter at @MandyCapehart

Follow Mandy on Instagram at @mandycapehart

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