Coping More Easily With Loss And Grief As An Introvert

Everyone experiences grief differently regardless of their personality preference. There is little research on the personality connection to loss and grief. Most available research is inconclusive.

I’ve been in my head a lot with the death of both family and friends in the last month or so; it seemed right to offer some insights more from personal experience.

paths-are-made-by-walking

“Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.”  Machado

Coping more easily with loss and grief as an introvert

A coping resource in mutual friends

At a funeral service, there is likely at least one other person in a shared circle of friends and family who we know. Often talking about someone we just lost can comfort us and help us to move through the feelings and emotions of the situation.

Neither my husband nor I enjoy the viewing time at funeral services. The recent death of a friend was so sudden, while the room was filled, people didn’t have time or resources to travel from the most distant places from around the world.

We only knew one person in a room of about 150 people.

But have you ever noticed how at funeral services, people are in small groups consoling each other, crying, laughing – grieving?

One bit of new research points to introverts, more than extroverts, being “better socially calibrated than extroverts.” One meaning this might have is in such an environment as a funeral service introverts can be more tolerant of a range of behaviors.

For some of us people are a coping resource. If you don’t find it to be the case, I encourage you to try to break out of your comfort zone. Find that small group in which there is just one person you know and join them.

Our solitude preference

Solitude gives introverts energy. During the loss of someone we love, it’s wise to give ourselves permission, to take more than is standard alone and quiet time.

My husband was initially more contemplative than his extroverted self when his younger cousin died. He quickly found his energy from being around the rest of his family more, a lot more.

The final night of the funeral process he masterfully gathered up a group of about 14 of his cousins. Within minutes, even with the visiting line still out the funeral home door, seven cars headed to one of the city’s local restaurants.

We are most supportive of each other particularly in times like this so of course I joined and made the best of things. Once we arrived, I offered to take pictures as needed.

“There is a fellowship more quiet even than solitude, and which, rightly understood, is solitude made perfect.” Robert Louis Stevenson

fellowship-solitude-made-perfect

Paying attention to our inner voice can help us make better decisions to take care of ourselves at this time.

Grieving is not a race but a process. We want to honor it in a way that respects who we are, as well as the people around us.

Time does heal, but not erase

We don’t need timetables with loss and grief. Regardless of what your personality, it’s important to take the time we need when we experience any kind of loss or grief.

My time, to grieve the loss of our beloved dog Chanel of 16 years took longer than my husband. I also found journaling in a different way to be helpful.

About a year before we had to make a decision to help her out of her pain, I happened to have an accountability partner. This woman and I met on the telephone about once a week. When she learned about my loss, she asked if she could offer a fabulous idea that she found worked for many of her friends and family. You bet I said yes.

For about six months, I journaled as if talking with Chanel. It was telling her how much I loved her and knew she had to be enjoying more tennis ball chasing now. In a deeper, maybe prayerful way, I reconnected with her. I still often think about her now, two years later.

loss-and-grief-as-an-introvertWe introverts do need more time to explore our feelings particularly in such times as grief and loss.

Full disclosure: I’m not an extreme introvert, and I am a rare type, in the USA population (2%) and women (.8%).  My MBTI assessment tells me over the years, I’m an INTJ.

What does this mean in regards to coping with loss and grief?

Likely nothing.

Grieving is a private and personal experience. There are absolutely no two of us who will experience loss and grief the same. We’re all here on planet earth living our physical experience. Finding ways to coping more easily with loss and grief as an introvert is one more step in that process. 

How do you manage coping more easily with loss and grief?

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Comments

  1. First, sorry for your loss.

    By the way, I’m an INFJ with my MBTI.

    Coping with loss and grieving is almost necessary because it will happen. I don’t think we can escape this whether we are an introvert or an extrovert. However, we cope the way we know how and I think there’s really no better way to do that but just deal the way we know we can.

    Thanks for sharing this subject.
    Mahal Hudson recently posted…Calibration-Debunking the Myth about Work-Life BalanceMy Profile

  2. When my beloved father unexpectedly died in a massiv heart attack 35 years ago at first it was as if the rug was pulled from under me.

    Fairly quick I remembered that when a friend of mine’s father died the same way a few years earlier she started taking tranquilizers. My father at the time said to me: “But doesn’t Helen understand that her father would not have wanted her to do that”.
    Catarina recently posted…Are you a thought leader?My Profile

  3. Patricia – I’m sorry for your losses – your family member, your friend and your dog. Like you, I’ve experienced all three and it does take time to go through the grieving process.
    After my dad died, I went to stay with my mom until after the funeral. My husband and boys didn’t come until the day of the funeral and that time mom and I shared was so precious to both of us that it truly helped. We were able to talk about dad and mom was able to talk through her fear of going ahead without him – after all, they had been married for 68 years. Tremendous change. Thanks for sharing this.
    Lenie recently posted…Fridge Review: Choices and FeaturesMy Profile

  4. Jacqueline Gum
    Twitter:
    says:

    Patricai I am so sorry for all for all that you have been enduring. I am writing this from my best friend of 30 years home in Chicago who lost her husband of 35 years 2 weeks ago. I was here for the service and came back to help her. I say this, because I want you to know how this strikes home for so many reasons, but particularly now. Grieving is an extremely individual and private process and the stages of grief are not so easily defined and disposed of either. Journaling has always been healing for me as well, yet I know others who found it no help at all. Being there is important. Just s you always are!
    Jacqueline Gum recently posted…THANK YOU…WHERE’S THE JUSTICE?My Profile

  5. Beth Niebuhr
    Twitter:
    says:

    Patricia, I am so sorry for your losses. It is so hard to lose one but multiple losses are even worse.
    We do all grieve in different ways and the thing that I think is most important is to allow ourselves to take the time that we need. Also we need to be tolerant and supportive of other people’s processes.
    Beth Niebuhr recently posted…Networking for WomenMy Profile

  6. Firstly my condolences to you, Patricia on your loss.

    Grieving is such a personal thing and we cope in different ways. Some drink, take drugs, party all the time, like to be around others or isolate themselves. As you have stated, we must be kind to ourselves by allowing the grieving process. There are no quick fixes or short cuts.

    When my father died suddenly over a decade ago, I realised how fragile life is. I opened my eyes to the fact that people close to me will pass and I WILL have to cope somehow.

    Death will always be painful for the ones left behind.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Decision making – not for the faint hearted!My Profile

  7. I, too, have been thinking about grief lately. I agree the grieving process is different for everyone. And there are types of losses other than death that cause our grief – the end of a relationship, a serious illness, a loved one sinking into dementia. We don’t always recognize our feelings at those times as grief. Whatever the circumstance, we need to acknowledge and feel our grief, and give ourselves time and space to heal. I’m sorry for your personal grief right now, but glad you seem to have supportive people around you. Allow yourself time and whatever else you need to go through the grieving process your way.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Guidebooks and Trip PlanningMy Profile

  8. All of my family – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., have passed so now it’s just me and my sister and her children. For years there always a funeral somewhere and I think that it made us somewhat numb to it because I remember arriving home from a business trip to Europe and there was a voicemail message that my father had died of a heartache … just like that. No question that one way or the other we find our own way through the process of grieving for those who leave us in life.
    Marquita Herald recently posted…How to See the Opportunity in ProblemsMy Profile

  9. I too am sorry for your losses Patricia. To me it seems even those extroverted people, when they suffer a loss, need time alone to work through the grieving process. Yes being around friends and family can help, but there is still that alone time you need to process all those feelings that are uniquely yours.
    Susan cooper recently posted…Silverado Vineyards Sangiovese: #WineMy Profile

  10. Post end-of-marriage apocalypse, my therapist basically prescribed I write in my journal and then allow myself to cry. A lot. Otherwise, the grieving process of being basically abandoned would never start to take a turn for a better. Writing has always been the way I work my way back into being.
    Jeri recently posted…10 Tips for Making an Audio Book by Rick PipitoMy Profile

  11. What I think makes the biggest difference in how we react to the loss of someone who was close to us is whether or not the death was expected. In some of the cases where it was I have attended funerals or memorial services that truly seemed like a memorial to the person’s life. When it is unexpected we are more consumed with a sense of loss.
    Ken Dowell recently posted…Will Cars Fly? Or Will They Just Get Smarter?My Profile

  12. Pamela Chollet
    Twitter:
    says:

    You mentioned losing your treasured pet of 16 years. I had to to do the same with my pet Yorkie, Rosie who was also 16 years-old. What flawed me was the amount of grief I felt after losing her. I guess I never expected such deep sorrow from losing a pet. The thing I remember was a sense of urgency I had to find another pet. I remember searching the newspaper ads and visiting shelters every day for 2 or 3 weeks. But then I realized I didn’t have to “get over” losing her and move on to anything. I could miss her as much as I wanted for as long as I wanted. It seemed so simple,but knowing and surrendering to the grief, was so freeing. I often hear people say, “I just want to get back to my life”. But , the thing is, once you lose a loved one, you life is’t the same; not to say it will be worse, but it will never be the same.
    Pamela Chollet recently posted…How To Raise Your Preschooler’s Inner Self-Esteem | behaviorMy Profile

  13. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been dealing with this. I do think grief affects everyone differently, and when a friend is going through the grieving process the best thing you can do is let them do it in their own way. There’s no better time to be sensitive and patient with a person than when they are dealing with a loss. You describe that so well here.
    Meredith recently posted…Surviving Creativity: Setting PrioritiesMy Profile

  14. Seems like older we get, the more funerals we attend, then one day it is less. We do look and deal with grief differently; I think this is why it is so hard to comfort someone. We have no idea how they are dealing with it, so how do we know our comfort will help or hurt.

  15. I lost 3 close relatives including my mother within a 9 month period a few years ago. I really thought I would be 100% back to normal after a few months. Around the time of the last death, I started having stomach problems. I look back and realize that I just tried to move myself forward as opposed to properly dealing with it and that I eventually paid the price for that with my health. I think we have such a precedent that we should “be strong” and “push forward”, but there really is something to be said for taking time to nurture yourself.
    Erica recently posted…5 Ways To Get Past Your Weight Loss ExcuseMy Profile

  16. What I think is how one react on the loss of some who was close but the most shocking thing is sudden death. Sudden death just make the things so hard I don’t have words to express my feelings.

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