August 9, 2021
Equally as important, are you even aware of the love languages? If not, let me offer a bit of context.
Dr. Gary Chapman outlined five primary ways people feel cared for in his landmark book, “The Five Love Languages.” Here’s a link to Dr. Chapman’s website in order for you to learn more and explore: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/.
Essentially, he argued that people feel most loved when cared for according to their primary love language. Each one is outlined below:
It’s an interesting perspective, right?
Why, you might ask? Unfortunately, I found myself in a position where my grief needs weren’t being fully met. While I certainly felt the support from family and friends in some ways, I also experienced feelings of isolation and misunderstanding. As a result, I began exploring how the five love languages might help me better communicate what I needed most.
Over the course of several months, I re-discovered my primary love language: acts of service.
Recognizing this helped me identify moments when I felt less supported by others. See, following my mom’s death, I was met with kind words and gifts, both of which are wonderful. Nevertheless, given that these expressions didn’t align with my primary love language, I wasn’t able to readily acknowledge them as expressions of love. What others saw as thoughtful and helpful, I found somewhat lacking.
Armed with this new information, I slowly began to share the desire to meet my grief with acts of service. Truthfully, it wasn’t easy to open up about my grief needs. Not only did I feel disempowered to express them (for fear of sounding selfish), I also didn’t want to hurt other’s feelings for fear of rejection or abandonment. However, I knew I needed to be bold in my expression in order to connect more readily with others and meet my deepest needs at the time.
I remember the response to my sharing like it was yesterday. A close friend, who I’d shied away from for several months after my mom died, called me one afternoon. She’d always been one to offer up thoughtful gifts. As a matter of fact, she’d already sent two care packages to my home within the first few months of my mom’s death. In addition, on the day we spoke, I received a notification informing me about another package on the way. Oh, my goodness!
On the phone, however, I courageously expressed my greater appreciation for acts of service. Of course, I thanked her for the gifts shared and even explored how I might use items in each package. Thankfully, my friend listened with an open heart and quickly pivoted to ways she might be better able to meet my grief needs. What we landed on were times when she could walk my sweet Beagle or drop off dinner after work to prevent me from having to do additional tasks in the evening. Even now, I find meaning in her and other’s actions. And every now and then, I call my friend to share how special and seen her kind acts made me feel at a time I needed compassion the most.
That’s what it’s really about, isn’t it? Having your grief, and the pain associated with it, witnessed. I’ve learned that figuring out ways to feel seen, in the form of one’s primary love language, is key along the grief journey.
If you have no clue what your primary love language is, take a few minutes to complete a short quiz: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/what-is-my-love-language-quiz. While originally formulated for use in romantic relationships, know that the results can be tailored to the grief arena as well.
I’m curious and optimistic about what you may discover. Once you review the results, consider how sharing them could not only benefit you, but also those who are working to support you in your grief. You may be pleasantly surprised, like I was, that when others know what you need, they can meet your needs in thoughtful and consistent ways.
Like always, share your comments below. I’d love to hear what you learn!
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