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Understanding grief and loss by enneagram type helps you know what your type needs when grieving can allow you to grieve in life giving ways.

This post is by no means “enough” but I’m hoping to give terms and understanding to those going through grief and loss (as well as to those who are trying to support them).

For each type, you will see how that type might react within their type, within their stress number (because grief/loss is stressful), how their stance might cause them to react, and some tips for going through the grieving process.

“It is to our advantage to learn what we can, using the wisdom of the Enneagram, so that we can grieve in ways that are life giving, enhancing our ability to accept loss and enabling us to keep moving forward.” – Suzanne Stabile

If you aren’t too familiar with the enneagram, I recommend you check out my post: The Nine Enneagram Types or if you are pretty sure you know what type you are but need a way to pin things down, check out my post on How to Confirm Your Enneagram Type.

What Is Grief? What is Loss?

When most people hear grief or loss they think of a death. Death of a loved one is definitely a loss and when grieving will be felt. However, death is not the only reason for us to grieve a loss.

Loss of a job, getting passed over for a promotion, loss of a home, or moving from a home, loss of friendship, a marriage that ended, even good changes like moving forward in life but having to say goodbye to where you’ve been before… all of these can cause us to feel a loss and start the grieving process. Death is not the only thing that warrants grief.

Grief and Loss by Enneagram Type

What Does Grieving Do?

I won’t lie, grieving is not fun in any way, shape, or form. If I had my way, I’d probably detour around grief whenever I could. That said, I’ve learned that grieving has its benefits despite being so difficult. There are reasons to want to fully and holistically grieve.

Grieving teaches you
I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned about myself when I grieve. Some things I don’t enjoy learning about (wait, I’m like what?!) but in the end, it gives me a better understanding about myself and if I’m holistically grieving I’m also learning better ways to live my life as well.

Grief surprises you
Not only will you find your grief triggered at random and unexpected times but you’ll also be surprised at how you feel or show grief. Most people think of sadness when they think of grief but grief can show up in anger, loneliness, shame, fear, anxiety, and so much more.

Grieving hurts
This is an obvious one. Grieving is and will always be a painful process, but it is a process which brings me to the next point…

Grieving ends
Or rather it should end. If you don’t holistically grieve then it’s possible to carry on grieving for the rest of your life. That is not what we want and isn’t really healthy either. This is not to say that we stop remembering a loved one we lost… but the grieving aspect disappears. It’s so helpful to know while in this hard time that it will not last forever.

Grieving heals you
Maybe this one doesn’t come as a surprise but you need to grieve to be healed from the hurt. Does the grieving hurt as well…yes. But it’s a healing hurt.

Grief comes in all different ways and each person will go through grief differently. That is the reason for this post; to show how each enneagram type goes through grief and loss.

Why You Need To Know How Your Type Handles Grief and Loss

It’s good to know how your type handles grief and loss so you can better understand what you are going through. Just knowing that you are doing xyz because you are grieving can be so relieving and helpful. It gives you a little bit to stand upon so you can see the way forward. It also shows you what you many need to do in order to fully grieve so that you can keep moving forward.

Why You Need To Know How Other Types Handles Grief and Loss

It’s good to know how other types handle grief and loss because it allows you to have more compassion for them, understand that they are grieving even if it doesn’t look like how you would, and help you know what they might need from you during this hard time.

Grief and Loss by Enneagram Type

Enneagram Type 1

Enneagram 1’s in Grief and Loss

Type 1 Reactions:
Type 1’s want structure when grieving in order to know the “right” way to proceed and they want guidelines for making decisions. Since 1’s are in the gut/body triad, anger is more likely to flare up especially if there is any sense of injustice involved. They may easily dip into the negative type 1 traits such as being critical, judgmental, and perfectionistic while grieving.

Type 1 Stress Reactions:
Type 1’s move to 4 in their stress and since grief and loss is a stressful time, they are likely to become familiar with their stress number. Moving to 4 in stress might look like being withdrawn, moody, emotional, envious, and irritable.

Type 1 Stance Reactions:
Type 1’s are in the Compliant/Dutiful Stance which means they are more likely to continue doing life and doing things for others instead of properly processing things.

Type 1 Grief and Loss Tips:
Use music to get in tune with your emotions.
Take walks, particularly walks in nature.
Process with thinking dominant types (types 5, 6, or 7) to help kick your “repressed thinking” into gear.
Realize that there’s not one “right” way to grieve and you can’t fix grief… you just have to go through it.

Enneagram 2’s in Grief and Loss

Type 2 Reactions:
Type 2’s want support and approval of others while figuring out how to move forward. While they want support from others, they also want to support others grieving to help strengthen their bonds with those people.  Since 2’s are in the heart triad, shame is more likely to flare up especially if there is any sense of having needs involved. They may easily dip into the negative type 2 traits such as being prideful, manipulative, and martyr-ish while grieving.

Type 2 Stress Reactions:
Type 2’s move to 8 in their stress and since grief and loss is a stressful time, they are likely to become familiar with their stress number. Moving to 8 in stress might look like being demanding, blunt, controlling, and argumentative.

Type 2 Stance Reactions:
Type 2’s are in the Compliant/Dutiful Stance which means they are more likely to continue doing life and doing things for others instead of properly processing things.

Type 2 Grief and Loss Tips:
Pay attention to YOUR needs; not just the needs of others.
Have alone time so you can focus on your feelings (because otherwise you are soaking up the feelings of everyone else)
Process with thinking dominant types (types 5, 6, or 7) to help kick your “repressed thinking” into gear.
Exercise to help release any pent up energy.

Enneagram Type 3

Enneagram 3’s in Grief and Loss

Type 3 Reactions:
Type 3’s want to know and set goals quickly. They want to express their emotions but not be overwhelmed by them. Since 3’s are in the heart triad, shame is more likely to flare up especially if there is any sense of failure involved. They may easily dip into the negative type 3 traits such as being vain, inauthentic, and validation needy while grieving.

Type 3 Stress Reactions:
Type 3’s move to 9 in their stress and since grief and loss is a stressful time, they are likely to become familiar with their stress number. Moving to 9 in stress might look like being disengaged, complacent, and retreating.

Type 3 Stance Reactions:
Type 3’s are in the Assertive Stance which means they are more likely to act out instead of properly processing things.

Type 3 Grief and Loss Tips:
Allow others to take charge during this time.
Practice being and not doing.
Process with feeling dominant types (types 2, 3, or 4 – 3’s are feeling dominant and feeling repressed) to help kick your “repressed feeling” into gear.
Realize that grief doesn’t come with a checklist.

Enneagram Type 4

Enneagram 4’s in Grief and Loss

Type 4 Reactions:
Type 4’s want to discover what is “missing” whether within themselves or in the grieving process. They want to fully express and feel their emotions. Since 4’s are in the heart triad, shame is more likely to flare up especially if there is any sense of rejection involved. They may easily dip into the negative type 4 traits such as being moody, temperamental, and withdrawn while grieving.

Type 4 Stress Reactions:
Type 4’s move to 2 in their stress and since grief and loss is a stressful time, they are likely to become familiar with their stress number. Moving to 2 in stress might look like being people pleasing, trying to “buy” others’ love, and testing the strength of relationships.

Type 4 Stance Reactions:
Type 4’s are in the Withdrawn Stance which means they are more likely to retreat from others instead of properly processing things.

Type 4 Grief and Loss Tips:
Make a list of things you are grateful for (both things around you and within yourself)
Ride the wave of your emotions but let it take you somewhere healthy.
Process with doing dominant types (types 1, 8, or 9) to help kick your “repressed doing” into gear.
Realize that grief does not have to last forever.

Enneagram Type 5

Enneagram 5’s in Grief and Loss

Type 5 Reactions:
Type 5’s want clarity before making decisions. They also want to avoid excess emotions (both theirs and others). Since 5’s are in the head triad, anxiety/fear is more likely to flare up especially if there is any sense of incompetency or the unknown involved. They may easily dip into the negative type 5 traits such as being withdrawn, cynical, and stingy while grieving.

Type 5 Stress Reactions:
Type 5’s move to 7 in their stress and since grief and loss is a stressful time, they are likely to become familiar with their stress number. Moving to 7 in stress might look like being indulgent, restless, and dissatisfied.

Type 5 Stance Reactions:
Type 5’s are in the Withdrawn Stance which means they are more likely to retreat from others instead of properly processing things.

Type 5 Grief and Loss Tips:
Notice where you feel emotions in your body.
Engage with your emotions instead of detaching from them.
Process with doing dominant types (types 1, 8, or 9) to help kick your “repressed doing” into gear.
Realize that you can’t understand all of grief.

Enneagram Type 6

Enneagram 6’s in Grief and Loss

Type 6 Reactions:
Type 6’s want certainty in plans and in loyalty. They also want reassurance about the future. Since 6’s are in the head triad, anxiety/fear is more likely to flare up especially if there is any sense of disloyalty or the unknown involved. They may easily dip into the negative type 6 traits such as being self-doubting, anxious, and hyper-vigilant while grieving.

Type 6 Stress Reactions:
Type 6’s move to 3 in their stress and since grief and loss is a stressful time, they are likely to become familiar with their stress number. Moving to 3 in stress might look like being image-conscious, afraid of failure, and staying busy.

Type 6 Stance Reactions:
Type 6’s are in the Compliant/Dutiful Stance which means they are more likely to continue doing life and doing things for others instead of properly processing things.

Type 6 Grief and Loss Tips:
Notice what you can do and learn right now (as oppose to what to do in the future).
List when your instincts/thoughts were correct in the past to help build trust in yourself.
Process with thinking dominant types (types 5, 6, or 7 – 6’s are thinking dominant and thinking repressed) to help kick your “repressed thinking” into gear.
Remember that life can move forward even with uncertainties.

Enneagram Type 7

Enneagram 7’s in Grief and Loss

Type 7 Reactions:
Type 7’s want to explore a range of options. They want freedom to do what they want to do and they prefer quick decisions. Since 7’s are in the head triad, anxiety/fear is more likely to flare up especially if there is any sense of pain or deprivation involved. They may easily dip into the negative type 7 traits such as being unfocused, indulgent, and escapist needy while grieving.

Type 7 Stress Reactions:
Type 7’s move to 1 in their stress and since grief and loss is a stressful time, they are likely to become familiar with their stress number. Moving to 1 in stress might look like being rigid, critical, pessimistic, and perfectionistic.

Type 7 Stance Reactions:
Type 7’s are in the Assertive Stance which means they are more likely to act out instead of properly processing things.

Type 7 Grief and Loss Tips:
Follow a routine so that life can continue in a healthy way.
Take some time to do nothing in order to allow in emotions.
Process with feeling dominant types (types 2, 3, or 4) to help kick your “repressed feeling” into gear.
Realize that fully grieving involves allowing painful emotions.

Enneagram Type 8

Enneagram 8’s in Grief and Loss

Type 8 Reactions:
Type 8’s want some sort of control of either themselves or the situation. They want to get things rolling and to move forward. Since 8’s are in the gut/body triad, anger is more likely to flare up especially if there is any sense of vulnerability involved. They may easily dip into the negative type 8 traits such as being controlling, intimidating, and rebellious while grieving.

Type 8 Stress Reactions:
Type 8’s move to 5 in their stress and since grief and loss is a stressful time, they are likely to become familiar with their stress number. Moving to 5 in stress might look like being cynical, detached, secretive, and withdrawn.

Type 8 Stance Reactions:
Type 8’s are in the Assertive Stance which means they are more likely to act out instead of properly processing things.

Type 8 Grief and Loss Tips:
Get some sleep and take care of your body.
Exercise to release pent up emotions and energy.
Process with feeling dominant types (types 2, 3, or 4) to help kick your “repressed feeling” into gear.
Realize that being vulnerable while grieving will not break you.

Enneagram Type 9

Enneagram 9’s in Grief and Loss

Type 9 Reactions:
Type 9’s want to take all points into consideration before doing anything. They also want to avoid conflict and to help reduce others’ discomfort. Since 9’s are in the head triad, gut/body triad, anger is more likely to flare up especially if there is any sense of not being heard or conflict involved. They may easily dip into the negative type 9 traits such as being indecisive, passive aggressive, and forgetful.

Type 9 Stress Reactions:
Type 9’s move to 6 in their stress and since grief and loss is a stressful time, they are likely to become familiar with their stress number. Moving to 6 in stress might look like being suspicious of others, self-doubting, anxious, and overcommitted.

Type 9 Stance Reactions:
Type 9’s are in the Withdrawn Stance which means they are more likely to retreat from others instead of properly processing things.

Type 9 Grief and Loss Tips:
Remember to love yourself equally to others (you are just as important).
Pay attention to where you feel grief in your body.
Process with doing dominant types (types 1, 8, or 9 – 9’s are doing dominant and doing repressed) to help kick your “repressed doing” into gear.
Realize that numbing out will not help you process grief… just delay it.

For more information on grieving through the enneagram lens:
The Enneagram; Loss & Grief by David Daniels MD
Suzanne Stabile (no current link but she often does workshops on grief)