When Introverts Grieve

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Introverts already have a hard time dealing socially with other people.  They can find their energy drained by interactions with other people, social situations, etc.  They recharge their batteries by withdrawing to solitude.   It doesn’t mean that introverts don’t like to engage socially with others, or try to avoid it like the plague.  It simply means that when they do socialize, it takes a lot out of them.  Therefore, introverts will not overwhelm their schedules with lots of plans.  They are very choosy about what they say yes to, and how often they say yes.  They are the most forgiving, of your friends, when you have to cancel.  They are very intentional with their time, and recognize that they need time off.

It would surprise many of friends to hear me say that I am an introvert… but it is the truth.  I’m very selective about my friends, cautious with my time, and can enjoy the complete silence of an empty house.  Even though when I AM out, I can talk your ear off and have a great time.

One of the most difficult times for an introvert, in my experiences, is when we are grieving.   Loss is hard on anyone, but for introverts it is also exhausting.  We appreciate your phone calls, messages, emails, cards, etc.  We are thankful for your offers of help and concern for our well being.   In dealing with death, we are already overwhelmed.  We are overwhelmed by our own emotions.  We are trying to navigate conversations with immediate and extended family members, hosting out of town guests, planning funeral or memorial arrangements.  We are making plans, writing obituaries, or having to think about what we will say at the funeral.  It’s a lot to contend with.

Then we are compounded by phone calls from well meaning people WHOM WE LOVE.  Truth is… introverts do not want to talk about what has happened any more than they have to.  We are not ready yet to answer questions or hear the same words over and over again.  It is NOT because we don’t want to talk to you right now.  It is because it is incredibly hard.  We just can’t do it.  Our conversations will be short, we may not have all of the answers to your questions yet, and frankly we may not even be emotionally or mentally ready to do so… and we need you to be okay with that.

So, how do you show an introvert you care?

Please do not just show up at our door, no matter how upset we are.  We need our solitude right now, and depending on who it was that passed away … we may need to cleave to our immediate family.  If we need someone to come and sit with us, trust me… we know we can call you.  We know you will be there. 

Dropping off meals is a sweet gesture, but we may not be up for the visit.  And I know you think you will just drop off and go… but we all know that a visit will happen.  If you feel like helping in this way, send a gift card for a local pizza place (even Little Caesars for $5.55 ready to go pizzas).  It doesn’t have to be an expensive meal.

Phone calls are a personal touch, but personal can be hard right now.  A quick text, a card in the mail, or an email w/o expectation of an immediate response is better.  It gives us time to respond when we are up to it.  Do not think that we see this gesture as cold or unsympathetic…. we appreciate it more than you realize.

Introverts cope differently than you would expect, the time we may need to lean on you may be weeks or months later, after the dust settles.  Be there for us then, pray for us now.

Introverts appreciate practicality and solutions during a time of grieving.  If you work for a hotel and can help us with discounted accommodations for family flying in to town, that is better than flowers or a meal.  With the recent passing of my Father In Law, there was a specific task that needed to be handled & we had no idea how to handle it.  I reached out to a friend and asked her help in the matter.  This to me was a relief that we didn’t have to navigate it alone, and that there was someone level headed doing the thinking for us.  

Finally, I would suggest offering specific help.  I’m just as guilty of saying to someone “Let me know if I can help in anyway”…. because we love that person, we want to help, but we don’t know how.  It’s a genuine offer.   However, having been on the other side of the situation, our brains don’t always know how to answer that question.  So instead of offering a blanket answer, offer what you know you can.   These are merely suggestions, and not applicable to our current situation:

  • Does your mother in law need someone to mow the lawn over the next few weeks?  My husband said he would be happy to come by.
  • Until things get settled, if anything needs fixing around the house, let the church know.  We’ll send our handy man to help you.
  • Since our kids go to school together, once you go back to work, I’m happy to pick your kids up from school until you can figure out a plan.
  • I’m happy to watch the kids when you guys have to make arrangements.  (Or – I’m happy to keep the kids while you are at the memorial/funeral, if that would make it easier for you.)
  • If you ever just don’t want to be alone, call me… I’ll bring the popcorn and the movies.

My husband and I were just talking tonight about this subject, a family friend called today (my Father in Law passed on Monday).  My husband appreciated that our friends have not been ringing our phone off the hook. It gives him time to process, and I knew exactly what he meant.  It also shows just how well people know us, because this is not a post of complaint.  Our friends have been absolutely amazing in giving us space and time as a family.

This post is just to share a little insight into the mind of the introverts in your life, when they are grieving.  KNOW that we love you.  We KNOW that you are thinking about us.  We KNOW that you care, and are willing to help.  Just know that more now than ever, we need that peace that comes from solitude, to re-energize ourselves for the heavy tasks ahead of us in the coming days and weeks.

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New Year, Real Solutions

MBA

I was recently reading an article where the author talked about not making resolutions, but instead focusing on real solutions.  That has stuck with me, during this two week-ish break.  I really do want REAL solutions in 2015.  No more dreaming and not taking the steps, no more excuses, no more adding entirely new notions to a resolution list… when I have other things in my life that require real solutions.  I need to own the problems and difficulties, and honestly ask myself… what is the real solution for this.  Not the “ideal world” solution, not the “if things could be my way” solution, and definitely not the “if money was no object” solutions.

Truth this, none of that is a reality.  It’s a fallen world.  I will never get all things my way.  And, money creates more problems than it generally solves.

The real solutions lie in looking at the big picture and the small picture.  It involves action, research and progress.  It involves prayer, accountability, and encouragement.  It requires attainable steps, measurable success and more importantly it requires divine direction.

For example, my battle with weight.  (Ah the cry of the women folk)

If I continue to only look at diet plans and exercise programs, I’m going to have some success.  But, I won’t have measurable success, until I look for the real solution.  That real solution lies not in my medication, exercise program or diet plan.  The real solution lies in understanding my illness, trying to determine the triggers, looking to others who have walked this road before me & are healed, and actually doing all those things I keep saying I need to (like getting my allergy panel done).

Real solutions is not saying “I would like to” or “I need to” do something, it’s coming up with the action plan to get that momentum started.

Real solutions may take you outside of your comfort zone, and may require you to do and say things that are not pleasant … but need to be said.

Real solutions require….

REAL ownership of your life.

REAL accountability to others.

REAL action steps.

REAL timelines and deadlines.

REAL purpose.

… and the best part… Real solutions contain real HOPE.

THE LOVE OF MONEY

MBA

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith
and pierced themselves with many griefs.       1 Timothy 6:10

I have a guilty pleasure, I watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. At first it was out of curiosity, I wanted to know what their lives were really like. How wonderful must it be to have all that money, all of those resources to draw from. What I realized, very quickly, is that their lives are not all that wonderful.

I remember growing up as a kid, not having a lot of money. We would often play the “if money was no object” game, or “if I won the lottery” game. We would talk about the things we would buy, the people we would help. There was an illusion that by having more money all of our problems would be resolved. Life would be better. We would be happier.

That is so far from the truth. In watching the Real Housewives I have learned:

  • You can have all the money in the world, and your husband will still cheat on you.
  • You can have all the money in the world, and your business can still fail.
  • You can have all the money in the world, and still be depressed and driven to addiction.
  • You can have all the money in the world, and still have a dysfunctional family.
  • You can have all the money in the world, and not have any authentic friendships or relationships.
  • You can have all the money in the world, and still be alone and lonely.
  • You can have all the money in the world, and it still isn’t enough to make you happy.

Money doesn’t solve your problems. Money doesn’t make you happier. Money doesn’t guarantee you will be spared trouble. Because, money has no power. God has power.

God gives us all the resources we need to get through this life. There are no promises that we won’t struggle, but we know that we will not struggle alone. God fills our spirit, develops our character. God helps us define who we are & who we become.

I can have all the money and resources in the world, but without God…. I am bankrupt.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Be challenged this week to not think about how your life could be different “if only you had more…” and instead examine what you have, and how you could better use it for His glory.

* Written for the TC3 Women’s Ministry Devotion Blog