Introverts and Grief

This post is a departure from my normal homeschool, parenting, and family articles. But it’s been on my heart for a few weeks now. Many of my readers know that my father passed away in July after a stay in ICU following a car accident. As we went through the days following my Dad’s death, I knew that I grieved differently than others. I’ve experienced this before- after my Grandmother’s death.

The fact is that I am an introvert. I’m not sure if all introverts share the same experience when they are grieving, but I do think that, as introverts, they may. Many people think I haven’t fully grieved. Or they think I’m keeping things in in an unhealthy way. Hopefully there is no one who thinks that I haven’t been sad. But I know that, occasionally, people just don’t know what to make of my response.

Introverts and Grief

I know that all introverts aren’t always the same just as all men aren’t the same or all short people aren’t the same. But I think, as an introvert, I can make a few generalizations. If you have friends who happen to be introverts or a child who’s an introvert, they may process grief differently. They may need some space. Here are a few ways that I handle grief.

I don’t really want to cry in front of everyone. It’s not a matter of pride. It’s the fact that I’m a private person. Sitting around in a big group with everyone crying isn’t cathartic for me. It’s intimidating. I can grieve more freely on my own.

Lack of tears doesn’t equal lack of love. Just because I don’t like to cry in a group does not mean I don’t love the person who died. I loved my dad tremendously. It also doesn’t mean I don’t love the other family members who are sad. The fact that I grieve and process differently doesn’t mean I don’t grieve.

I have a hard time handling other people’s sadness sometimes. Maybe this one is just me. I struggle with compassion at the best of times. During a time like a death in the family, I’m just not sure what to do with other people’s grief. I try to be comforting and compassionate. But mostly I just feel awkward. So the uncomfortable feeling you sense from me doesn’t mean I don’t care. It just means I’m not sure what to do.

Sitting around and grieving as a group isn’t cathartic to me. It seems that most people seem to find comfort in all hanging out and sharing and grieving together in the days following a death. Too much of a group is hard for me at the best of times. During this time of grief, it’s doubly hard. Being with the group is emotionally draining for me- not an encouragement. I can handle it in small doses because it is important to draw close as a family, and I realize that. But when I’m ready to take a break, I hope people don’t get their feelings hurt.

My grief seems to happen on a different time table. Immediately following my dad’s death, I was able to completely focus on the tasks at hand and not really think about much else. It’s only been afterwards, that I find myself more sad as I move farther from the immediate needs and more into “regular” life without him around.

If you have an introvert in your family or friends, just know that they may grieve differently. It’s not a sign of denial or a lack of love or of compassion. It’s just different.

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