When Extroverts Grieve
When Extroverts Grieve
Grieving is hard. It is good to have some friends to help. Extroverts are people who are neurologically wired to aggregate energy through human social contact. They then spend that energy on tasks that require focus and solitary work. Some parts of grieving are solitary. No one can do it for you, and because your loss is as unique as the relationship you had with your loved one, no one can truly be with you in your personal pain. But extroverts need accompaniment. They need a steady stream of energy producing contact. And some of what they need is counter to our expectations.
Here are some suggestions and tips for helping your extroverted friend or family member grieve. Remember, the default instruction is always ASK them what you can do to help, and then do that thing.
When Introverts Grieve
“Whatever you would want done to you, do so unto others” – Jesus, according to Matthew
OK, I could go out on a heretical limb here and say that Jesus was wrong, but I am more comfortable blaming Matthew, or whoever wrote down Matthew’s recollection. In either case, I think this rule is more gold plate than golden.
Because here is a true thing. Other people aren’t just like you - sometimes they want different things than you do. What I think we ought to do is find out what they want, and try and help them with that if we can.
Grief is very individual; no one can grieve for you. Ultimately, we all grieve solo. Culturally, it is also very corporate. Our rituals and our training tell us to huddle when we are hurt. This is a paradox, and it is likely that one side of it or the other is hard for you.
There is a neurological reality that expresses itself as a personality trait. It is the spectrum of introversion to extroversion. Extremely simplified, it can be defined thusly:
Extroverts recharge their emotional batteries in the presence of others. They then spend that energy on activities that require focus and involve individual concentration.
Introverts recharge their emotional batteries during solitude. They then spend that energy on activities that involve others.
About two thirds of Americans are on the extrovert end of the scale. In churches that percentage will be higher, because many introverts will not be drawn to larger communities. Extroverted church members who are trying to follow the golden rule have a hard time ministering the grieving introverts.
So I am going to lay out some general guidelines, the application will need to be individualized. These suggestions apply to the care of a HEALTHY introvert.
Take these suggestion and extrapolate. Identify the other introverts in your group and let them lead your care of this individual. Love them, and pray for them, and give them space and time. They will revive. It is what humans – all kinds of humans – do.
With love and respectful concern for my friend Mike.
Déjà Vu All Over Again
photo wiki commons
I presume this happens to other people... the standard conversation. You know, when your normal way of being provokes predictable comments from the hoi polloi.
I have several of them.
The one where I subvert little girls.
The one where people confuse me with the Amish.
And the one where motorcycle dudes have to comment on me and my bike.
These convos are so familiar that it is like Name That Tune! two notes in and I know where we are going with this. I have learned to play with these chats, seeing how the outcome changes if I change my lines.
In Miracle Motors, there is a classic example of the MotoDudes convo. That time I succumbed to the temptation of a wee bit ó snark. Snark is one of my besetting sins.
Last weekend I had a great Off the Grid ride. One of the things that made it great was that every meal that I took in public, I took at a lunch counter. I don't always want to rub elbows with randomly selected humans, but sometimes I get in the mood. I was in that mood last weekend.
When I was a child, all sorts of people sat at the lunch counter, men, women, working people, old ladies in fancy hats and gloves, kids with enough coinage to get a hand made soda. These days it's hard to get anything more than pie at the counter and mostly men sit there, often old men. Solo women take the booth. So sitting at the counter has become a micro-subversion.
Last week I stopped for the mid-morning, gasoline, pie and coffee break. The gal aimed me at the booth -
"I can sit at the counter?"
"I have plenty of booths, honey, right over here"
"Thanks, I'd like to sit at the counter - these fellows won't mind - I hardly ever throw food."
Two middle age guys look up at me. I put my helmet down on the counter
One guy grins.
"Well! I bet you aren't riding a Goldwing!" Here we go...
"No, and honestly, I wouldn't ride one if you gave it to me for free." (oops, snark)
" Well, then - I don't like you!" He said laughing and turning to the next guy who got up and paid for his pie.
"Well, sir. I am completely ok with your dislike and the side order of judgement. - Mind if I eat pie?" (probably snark) The waitress arrives and chuckles as she pours me coffee.
"Aw, I was just kiddin' - I ride a Goldwing."
"I had guessed that."
I let the silence sit while I got my triple berry heated up. Then I decided to turn this convo for the friendlier.
"I ride a Kawasaki Vulcan 750." I volunteered
"Well, that a nice bike, a good size for .... you" ( a female person)
(swallow snark) "Thanks - I've been riding this bike for 20 years, we are well suited for each other."
"Actually, the Goldwing is so big it's only fit for the freeway - it's not like you can ride it downtown here just for pie. It doesn't actually get out much. Where are you headed?"
"I'm not sure."
He looks perplexed. I explain the off the grid trip, where I go where the wind blows me, sans electronics, and even I don't always know where I will end up." The waitress is back, trying to refill full cups.
"Wow, that sounds like fun, my reckless buddy asked me to ride with him to Reno once, but Jeez, that's too far..."
We bonded by comparing our best and worst weather days. His was a rainy day exploring Mount Saint Helen's after it blew, mine was on Macos Pass in Colorado."
"You used to live in Colorado?"
"Nope, I was on my way to Texas and back." He stares, blankly, checking his mental map.
"So you pretty much don't have any immediate family, do ya?
"Oh, not at all, I am married and have grown kids and a grandchild - I am a regular matriarch."
Now he is looking a little confused. "Does your hubby ride?"
"I am married to a beautiful woman named Alivia." The Waitress is no longer pretending to pour coffee, she's just standing there watching this exchange.
"Well, ok, fine, does your.... does She ride?"
"Yep, but that doesn't change my need for the occasional solo ride - she understands."
Now his tone has changed, he is speaking softer, it's gone from challenge to confessional.
"Honestly, I'm jealous. My wife would never tolerate me going off by myself or going farther than a day ride."
"That's tough, I bet your Goldwing is missing you. You know, I never have asked permission, but it is important to have a blessing. Sometimes you have to earn that blessing."
"When do you have to be home?"
"Monday morning - I have to be at work."
"What do you do?"
"I'm the vice principal of an alternative high school - And on Sundays I am a Quaker minister..."
And then the traditional silence ensued.
St. Orville's Day
August 13th is St Orville's Day.
I believe deeply in keeping your own calendar.
It should be populated with saints and commemorations.
Orville, my father. In his youth he was wild and reckless. It is a multiple miracle that he lived to procreate. As an adult he was steady, and funny, and observant. He had no cusswords that anyone else would recognize. He never hit a child, or a woman. In the 48 years I knew him I never heard him raise his voice, or use a racial slur, or treat any human as anything less than fully human. He was crazy about our mother. In old age he liked to prank nurses. He was musical and painted. He was an amateur botanist, geologist and astronomer.
Appropriate ways to celebrate St Orville's Day.
My writing career is now old enough to get a driver's license...
In the Spring of 1998 I took a little motorcycle ride. To San Antonio, Texas and back. It was fun. I had some interesting experiences there and back again. I did not have the good sense to shut up about it.
My friend Marge Abbott started pestering me about writing the stories down. As Christmas rolled around I decided to write the story and make a few copies for my nearest and dearest as Christmas presents. My daughter Emily, a senior in high school, did the interior design and the cover for what became Extreme Unction: Christ and the lure of the open road. I was fond of the cover then and and still am today. I made the books at LazerQuick. The first run was about 20. The recipients were not discreet enough to keep it to themselves.
I made a batch of a hundred, and asked for money. I figured that would dry things up. Then I made another hundred, or two. Then I got tired of that and refused to make any more.
Barclay Press publisher, Dan McCracken, and one of his board members took me to breakfast at the Donald Cafe, and told me that it was good. And with work, publishable. But not by Barclay Press, because motorcycle travelogues were not really their thing.
At their insistence I put together a book proposal, which was ignored by many. I was relieved.
I was doing more preaching, and I never write sermons down before the speaking of them - very bad juju. But people thought I did, and kept asking for the messages. Bob Rodriguez, editor of a small town newspaper, offered to edit them if I would try and write them down after the fact. Marge thought this was a good idea. Alivia helped me print and mail them out.
Then I ran off to Africa, which generated a couple more stories.
I tried the blogging thing, which had the advantage of not involving late night runs to LazerQuick.
In the winter of '06 Pamela Calvert forwarded me a call for writers. United Press International wanted a broad spectrum of weekly religion writers for a spirituality page to appear on line. I sent them a column-length piece, expecting to be ignored. Within 24 hours I heard from Larry Moffitt, VP UPI. I had a gig.
I tried running off to Africa again, but Larry just sent me off with press creds, and I posted from the field.
When I had two years of columns done, I quit. But 100 columns makes a pretty good book, so I had it printed up by a real printer. Batches now came 250 at a time. I think I did it three times.
People said they wanted more about Africa - so I did one about that.
I tried making a book of ten years of sermons. Alvia painted me a very pretty cover for that. But people like motorcycle and war zone stories better than Gospel sermons and that one did not sell as well.
So I ran off to Africa Again.
When the 15 year anniversary of the Texas ride rolled around, I thought I might re-issue it. Now I had a day job, and some spare change, so I hired and editor and a designer. Kathy Hyzy, is pretty good at the double-dare-ya thing. She challenged me to make it much bigger than a one-ride-story. She dared me not just to write about weird stuff and my courage in face of it, but to actually tell the truth about the source of my courage. The whole thing got out of control.
Now I have a Summa Theologica Motorcyclica on my hands.
And yeah, its got the 1998 story, and a bunch of those columns and blog posts. But it has a whole lot of stuff I have never had the nerve to write before. And now it seems to have a story line under and through all the other stories that is much more important than the stories. Its got subtext - geez, when did that start to happen?
And now I can do it print-on-demand, and you can get it at any real bookstore, if you know what to ask for, or that under-cutting, on-line, behemoth that starts with an A.
And it makes me a little nervous.
But the cover's pretty, don't you think?
(I still like Emily's)
If it gets too big, I'll be picking up my mail in Bujumura.
I am blogging mostly at Unction.org - these days - and yes, you can order a book there if you really want to... sheesh
So There I was... In the Pueblo, Colorado library scrolling through microfiche of the Pueblo Chieftain from 1917. I was trying to find out the details of how my great-grandftaher froze to death.
I found this.....
October 24, 1917 The Pueblo Chieftan
Dressed in a complete boy's suit from top to toe, a rather pretty 17-year-old north side girl was arrested yesterday by Deputy Sheriff Roddy, and soon thereafter was taken to the county farm where she will be held until the county court can take proper action concerning her case, which it is expected will result in a sentence to the State Reform School for girls at Morrison.
This is the same girl who six weeks ago, after being missed from home for a week, was found doing man's work for the Fitts Manufacturing company. At that time she had secured a horse and buggy and driven eight miles in the country to the home of a family she knew; there she appropriated a serge suit belonging to the young man of the family, and after bobbing off her luxuriant head of hair, came to town and secured and up-to-date boys' hair cut. She then hunted a job and got it.
It appears that the appropriated suit of clothes still remained at the home of the girls family, and that last Friday, after having been given $85 dollars by her mother to pay bills (which she did not pay) and after "borrowing"$20 more from the home, making a total of $105, she donned the suit she first wore and went down town and bought a complete set of boy's attire, including toilet articles, candy, gum, pocket knife with "loud" pictures on the handle, and watch and fob, secured a room on Union avenue, and was probably hunting a remunerative job. When Roddy again hove across her path and took her into custody.
This girl belongs to a good family, has a good and prosperous home, but she just wants to be a boy.
The terrorist acts in Connecticut and California
What is terrorism? It is the attempt to punish or control a group by attacking a representative sample of that group.
Yesterday seven people were murdered in California, because a young man was homicidally angry at young women who would not have sex with him.
College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I've had to rot in loneliness. It's not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it.
Last Month Connecticut teen Maren Sanchez was choked, pushed down the stairs and then stabbed to death by a fellow classmate because she declined to go to the prom with him. Guns, knives, bare hands – it doesn’t matter.
Saying No is, and always has been, a dangerous act for women and girls.
In every time and in every place and in every culture. It is dangerous.
The media has decried these events. Everyone decries these events. But they name the perpetrators as “extremely disturbed individuals.” It is time to call them what they are. Terrorists. They are absolutely no different than the Boston Bombers or any other terrorist.
The clear intention of the terrorists here is to punish women who say no. The intentional effect is to make all women just a little bit afraid to say no. It has worked since the dawn of time. It is not rare. In 2005 One Thousand One hundred and eighty one women were murdered by their partners(cdc.gov). Those were partners who live together, the added toll of women dating, women going about the business or work or school or just walking the streets are not counted as part of this reign of terror.
These attacks are treated as if they are aberrations. The one-off lunacies of deviant individuals. It might be said that the woman killers are not an organized group. (Excuse, me, Taliban?) but when an idea is this pervasive, you don’t have to organize. The terrorist acts out of the collective consciousness. This individual is no more or less “troubled”than our culture.
The terrorits are discernably different from the Jared Loughners who are mentally ill and kill for reasons that are not reality based. These young women were killed for saying no or being representative for those who said no. A real act happened. A fundamental human right was expressed, the right to say no. They were killed for expressing their basic human rights.
They are different from the Ted Bundy’s who kill for their own sadistic pleasure. Those women died because they were women, and seen as consumable commodities, but not for actual actions that they took.
I choose to believe that most men never think about raping or killing a woman for being an intentional actor in her own life. I believe that of the small subset who think about it, a smaller subset act upon it. I do not blame the majority for the acts of the minority. But we are all culpable, and men especially, for refusing to see it for what it is, an attack upon womankind. Then we are all culpable for not doing much about it.
The first step changing the basic human culture of possession and punishment is to name things correctly, and treat these acts precisely as we would a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda or the KKK or any other terrorist group.
Along with this we need to name the victims for what they are. Martyrs. A monument should be made. If the writing was tiny like the Vietnam memorial, the Great Wall of China ought to be about the right size.
But a better next step needs to be for every parent, every teacher, every adult to tell every girl, that she is completely within her rights to say no to anyone at anytime for pretty much anything. She is also within her right to say yes to whom she will for whatever she wills. She will need to be educated about what responsibilities come with her actions. The field upon which she acts should increase incrementally throughout childhood, But her right to act cannot simply be assumed, it must be affirmed, asserted and protected - vigilantly. And sadly she must be made aware that she is going to meet those who do not affirm her right and will try to punish her for making her own choices. And that they may try and kill her.
I promise to tell my Psychology class on Tuesday. What will you do?