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.
will want to see and be seen sooner than some people expect. Open the house or
the church up, and make a gathering place. Bring food.
will want to tell their stories of their loved one. They will not get tired of
this. Listening is the greatest gift you can give them.
want you to share your memories. They will not get tired of this.
desire feedback. They want active listening. Your silent presence is not
enough, although it helps. They need you to interact with them around their
will appreciate the public rituals of grief. They may take on roles that others
consider heroic, or even unseemly. They need to be actively involved.
the extrovert is despondent, do not leave them alone. Work with others to keep
them accompanied. This will require teamwork.
will appreciate it if people are willing to carry their story with them. The
shared experience is what makes it seem real to them.
them if they want a care committee or grief support group to meet with them.
Let them set the time schedule. Do not put too many introverts on this
committee. Have a plan for switching people in and out as needed. The griever
will often need it to last longer than people can commit to.
the weeks and months go by, continue to call and email and visit your friend.
They understand that the world must go on, but they will FEEL abandoned, when
everyone else seems to have moved on.
social media. Where the introvert will use it as a buffer, the extrovert will
use it as a lifeline. Share pictures. Memories. Whatever you have.
you are a pray-er – call them up and pray with them on the phone.
the months go by, have play dates. Fun times of re-engagement. It is ok for
people who are grieving to have fun. They will use the energy they gain from
this to do their hard work of personal grieving.
therapy may be better for the extrovert than one on one counseling, although
they will like that too.
AA, hobby groups, all groups will be safe places for the extroverted griever.
may need to be reminded to rest and do self-care.
the extrovert has an introverted – focused and solitary - job, they may have severely decreased productivity.
may seem to be doing better than their introverted counter-parts – because our
culture applauds the social and the busy. But know that they are hurting just
as much and for just as long.