Sunday, May 3, 2015

Extrovert and introvert grief

Ying and yang

We all know that there are extraverts and introverts in this world, but I’ve never heard anyone talk about the differences in grieving among them.  In very oversimplified terms, extraverts are known for gaining energy (or I like to call it – recharging their batteries) by being around other people and introverts gain energy from solitude and inward reflection.  Of course, this is a spectrum and most people fall somewhere in between. 

From my experience, extraverts and introverts are often attracted to each other.  I have many friend couples where one is an extravert and the other is an introvert, my husband and I included.  I can see why extraverts and introverts are often a pair.  My husband keeps my social life thriving while I inspire him to be more reflective.  In our marriage, I keep my husband grounded and realistic while he encourages me to dream big and take risks.  I have always loved this about our relationship and have been so grateful for what he brought to our marriage.  Our energies are a yin and yang that swirl together and compliment each other nicely. 

This is good, right? 

Except when you are grieving.  In my experience, grief magnifies your extravert and introvert characteristics.  Whatever your natural tendencies are, grief pushes you so far in that direction and pins you stagnant on the extravert-introvert continuum instead of letting you slide between different characteristics.

Therefore, I have found that extraverts and introverts grieve very differently.  Extraverts need touching and feeling to heal.  They need to be physically close to the ones they love and they need a physical touch to feel connected.  (I’m not talking sex – literally just a physical touch).  Introverts need time to be introspective and to explore their thoughts.  They need to travel inward to lick their wounds and to see how they can regain their equilibrium.  In order to be with someone else, they need an emotional connection and the thought of physical touch is overwhelming.

So how do extraverts and introverts coexist during grief and work together toward healing?  Will that yin and yang ever harmoniously swirl together again?

Ha, this is where my post ends because I don’t know the answer.  For other extravert/introvert couples out there who have experienced loss, feel free to share how you got through it: 

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