Grief and loss are deeply personal experiences that every human finds challenging. Grief is an inevitable part of human life, but introverts however, find it a unique and challenging situation that demands special needs. Rather than take to social interaction like most people, introverts turn inward, often isolating themselves. It takes the reality of a loss longer to sink in for an introvert who the resorts to solitude to shield themselves from the outside world. Due to the overwhelming nature of grief, introverts need better strategies to cope to prevent falling into depression. In this article, we shall explore what grief is and the strategies for introverts to manage it.
What is Grief?
Grief is a natural response to losing a loved one or something of importance. In most cases, it is the response to the demise of a loved one. However, Grief can also result from the loss of other things, such as intimate relationships and attachments. Some of the reasons for grief
- Poor health
- Losing a job
- Financial loss
- Losing a pet
- Inability to fulfill a dream
- Loss of friendship
Difference Between Sadness and Grief
According to Psychiatrist J. John Mann from Columbia University, Sadness is a part of Grief; when we are sad, we wish for things to change. “It’s a motivation to reestablish a relationship.” Professor Mann says Grief is a yearning, whereas sadness is an emotional tool used by us to resolve present Grief into a permanent memory of loss or the loss of a loved one. While both are linked, Grief is a more temporary experience with an immediate cause.
The Five Stages of Grief
According to a model put forward by American Swiss Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler Ross, there are five stages of grief; these are
Comprehensive research on this model has found them to be nonlinear, which means they need not progress in any order. Moreover, the feelings could be different bereavements, and while some might experience all stages of grief, others may not. New research has found how grief can deviate from these five stages to present unique experiences which differ from Individual to Individual.
Grief in Introverts
While dealing with grief is difficult for everyone, irrespective of personality. But introverts, on the other hand, face a completely different experience altogether. For example, introverts are used to doing things independently, so they won’t seek external help, making the grieving process harder. There are multiple reasons why grief is harder for an introvert but the most common causes are:
- No deeper bonds and relationships: Introverts do not form casual and social bonds with all but sundry. When they do, it is intense, with just one or two people. This is why loss and grief are more challenging for an introvert.
- No outlet for emotions: Introverts never socialize, which means there is no one to turn to in periods of grief. An introvert feels more intense in grieving because they have no support or something to take their mind off things. Because they feel they can deal with their grief on their own, there is no social outlet for emotions which only prolongs the grief.
- Overthinking: Introverts think too much and often like sensitive people, which might magnify any emotional experience they feel, including grief. An introvert will analyze every experience to determine what went wrong and why.
How to Manage Grief as an Introvert
As an introvert, despite grief being a challenge, there are ways and means you can manage your grief. These coping strategies are designed to help you acknowledge grief, and overcome it.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
Learn to acknowledge your feelings of grief because it is a normal process. You are responsible for yourself so try and understand the emotions you experience. Grief involves several different emotions, so do not be confused; instead, allow yourself to feel all of them. Most importantly, never feel guilty if you experience a moment of happiness, such as rain on a hot day or seeing a rose sprout in your garden. You might soon realize that such moments eventually help you in the process.
Embrace Your Solitude
Solitude for introverts is all about finding inner peace amidst grief. Solitude helps you process emotions, so don’t feel afraid to embrace it. While some might question your wanting to be alone, it is vital to recognize how needing your “Me” time is perfectly normal in your case. Thus embrace your solitude without guilt or pressure from others. You could always create a safe space for yourself, such as your home, and fortify it with comfortable essentials such as a blanket, candles, and photos of your lost one.
Meditation And Mindfulness
Both meditation and mindfulness are immensely beneficial practices that can do much to calm you down. Meditation can neutralize stress, while mindfulness induces a sense of peace and prevents or manages depression. Mindfulness connects you with your emotions to understand your feelings and discover a new perspective after suffering loss or experiencing a traumatic event.
Self-Care is essential when coping with grief for introverts. Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally can aid in the healing process. Reading good books, spending time in nature like a walk in the park, healthy eating and self-hygiene are all ways to care for yourself. Grieving should not be about hurting yourself. When it involves introverts, there are risks of dwelling on the emotions of grief as a form of attachment and self-punishment. As Tolle puts it, there is always a choice: “It is a choice between falling into a victimized identity or ‘discovering grace’ on the opposite side of helplessness and surrender.”
Time is a Healer, So Give Yourself a Lot of It
Getting over the trauma of losing a loved one takes time. Some may get over it quicker than others, but there is no specific time frame as everyone is wired differently. Take it slowly and one day at a time. Just try your best till you find the hurting gets less. Now no one wants you to forget a loved one, you can keep them in memory, but those memories should be happy ones, and that’s how they will want you to remember them too.
Introverts often find how creative pursuits are a good outlet for emotional release. Indulging in art therapy, like painting, sketching, and sculpting, might be a good coping strategy for grief. Writing poetry or short stories is another way to channel your emotions onto paper without judgment. Learning an instrument is a comforting strategy because music is a powerful way to connect with your feelings and emotions. If you’re not artsy, you could take up a hobby such as keeping tropical fish, gardening, collectibles, or cooking.
There is no right or wrong way to cope with grief. However, these strategies outlined above are designed to protect you from your grief turning into a more negative experience. Allowing yourself space and time, and a firm NO to people who infringe on your time, can do much to keep you calm and composed during the process. What is essential is coping in a way that resonates with your introverted nature, but when there is a need to reach out for support, never hesitate to do so. If you do not have deep social relationships, seeing a therapist could greatly help. Prioritizing self-care and healing on your terms is imperative for introverts coping with grief.