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Thread: INFJ and grief

  1. #1
    Senior Member tovlo's Avatar
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    Default INFJ and grief

    I'm wondering about the experience of INFJ's and grief experiences.

    My mom died yesterday. I've felt soothed emotionally before in my time here seeing the perspectives and experiences of other INFJ's because I felt I understood them without the effort of having to adopt a different perspective to see properly. Right now I feel drained of the energy needed to bring someone else into my emotional experience. I'm hoping by asking this question I will be soothed with that sense that someone truly understands just in hearing the similarity of experience and also perhaps gain some insight into how to effectively manage the things on my plate right now.

    I have much weight on me beyond just my mom's death. There are decisions to be made regarding her death that have implications that touch on many other situations of loss I've experienced over the last year. I am completing right now a divorce process. In that process--along with a financial situation forcing me back into full-time work, much of that out of the home and overnights with the resulting almost constant exhaustion--I had to put my previously home-schooled boys back in public school this fall. In large part because of that decision and wanting to honor my oldest teen son's wishes on how that would play out for him, I only see him about 1 day a month now. In the decision process over choosing to divorce I realized that I could no longer remain in the faith I had taken on 10 years ago and so walked away from the parish, and support network, that my to-be-ex husband and children are still part of, and that my mom remained part of. So I'm going to have to re-enter for the process of mourning her death an environment that will be saturated with almost unbearable reminders of all that I've lost in my life over the last year (my family, my mother, my support network, my faith, my financial security). In addition to that, I fear much of that will be living reminders that will be judging me for my choices while I'm emotionally unable to bear it.

    I'm afraid in the dwelling on this I have to do to write it all down that I'm just making things worse for myself. I think about it all and then I feel overwhelmed with despair. Yet, it's not all bad in my life. Many of those losses have opened doors that allowed wonderful things to enter in the wake. So...I don't know. Should I shut down my experience of the despair and contemplation of the loss? That feels inauthentic. But then again, maybe I should just not be dwelling on it. Maybe a little numb and uncommunicative while I go into a sort of robot mode and just get done what needs to get done will make the most sense so I don't dive into exaggerated emotions that make everything worse? But then I worry about my few existing relationships and if they will suffer because in that state I have nothing to give them and I can't engage in them openly and honestly when I'm refusing to experience my experience fully. Can I make good decisions when I'm shutting off my experience? I don't think so actually. But can I make good decisions when I'm overwhelmed with despair? No, probably not. It takes emotional energy for me right now to find that place in the middle where emotions aren't out of control or frozen. I don't feel like I have that energy right now.

    I don't know. In writing this, I think I know what I need to do and it involves where I need to focus the energy I do have. I need to focus it on myself and getting myself to that mid-point. It might feel like misdirected energy to me when there are arrangements that need to be made and so many people who need me to care-take their emotions, and it seems like these are more immediate needs for where my energy needs to go, but I realize that I need to shut all that out and just take mini-moments to experience my experience, simply letting that emotion be what it is, feeling it in it's moment, but letting it go when it's done without hanging on to it. That takes energy for me because that sort of emotional regulation is not something I do naturally and am only now learning how to do. Yet, I am thinking maybe that's where my energy focus needs to be right now because even though it seems like it's stealing from other things that need my energy, it might actually feed me enough to build the energy to deal with those things too. Maybe.

    Anyway, if any INFJ's have any insight into how grief response manifests in us, I'd like to read it just for the comfort and wisdom I suspect will be contained in it.

    If the energy expenditure to openly revisit this thread ends up feeling too much for me to manage right now, please know that I'm reading quietly and anything that might be offered is truly appreciated. And I'll be OK too if nothing is offered, so loving hearts full of sympathy, please don't feel obligated to pass along words if no one else responds. I think it was maybe enough just to write this out for someone to receive, even if those someone's were relatively unknown cyberspace companions.

    Thanks for reading.
    "We don't see things as they are,
    we see things as we are."
    ...Anais Nin

  2. #2
    Mamma said knock you out Mempy's Avatar
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    Oh my God Tovlo, this shocked me! I'm shocked. I can't even express my pain for you. I'm so, so, sorry. God. I am sorry.

    It might feel like misdirected energy to me when there are arrangements that need to be made and so many people who need me to care-take their emotions, and it seems like these are more immediate needs for where my energy needs to go, but I realize that I need to shut all that out and just take mini-moments to experience my experience, simply letting that emotion be what it is, feeling it in it's moment, but letting it go when it's done without hanging on to it.
    Exactly. I had an experience where my uncle died, my dog got out, and I got fired from my job all in the same week. I got through that experience by simply letting myself feel my pain - all of it, untampered with - and by not trying to dampen it down to a whisper or play it up to an orchestra, but by just letting myself feel it and by letting it pass through me, as it would, as it needed to. I think this is probably one of the best ways to heal a wound and to come to terms with one’s pain, and I think you are on the right track, Rachelle. I really think you are.

    That takes energy for me because that sort of emotional regulation is not something I do naturally and am only now learning how to do.
    But that’s just it, it’s really not regulation. It’s more like a hands-off approach to your pain, which is probably incomprehensible at this point. Tovlo, I’m just so, so sorry you’ve lost your mom. It really brings me to tears, to know you’re going through this much grief and loss.

    So...I don't know. Should I shut down my experience of the despair and contemplation of the loss?
    Absolutely not! Absolutely. Not. I think you have it right when you say you’ve just got to let yourself feel it, without even trying to heal it or doing anything about it. Don’t try to fix the pain or get over it. Just feel it. If you do that, it will heal, eventually, without your even trying. It will.

    But then I worry about my few existing relationships and if they will suffer because in that state I have nothing to give them and I can't engage in them openly and honestly when I'm refusing to experience my experience fully.
    Exactly. I think if you are experiencing your experience fully, as you so gracefully put it, you WILL have something to give: your experience. Your emotions. I think that your authentic reaction to this situation is the best gift you can give to yourself and others. I know it is.

    But can I make good decisions when I'm overwhelmed with despair? No, probably not.
    Yes, you can. You can. Tovlo, my dear Tovlo. C’mere. I think you can. I truly believe that if you are allowing yourself to feel all your emotions and all your pain, there is no such thing as a bad decision, because they will all be from the center of yourself. Grief is never wrong. It is essential.

    Tovlo, I really admire you as a person. I think you constantly work on yourself and have arrived at some very wise insights in regard to yourself, life, and other people while I’ve known you. I really admire that you’ve been able to raise your kids and find someone whom you can get along with for more than ten minutes – and I really admire that you’ve written this. It takes a deep breath and a lot of courage to be as open and insightful as you have in this situation. If the world is caving in on you, I will hold up the roof of the world.

    I love you, Tovlo, as a person. I’m so sorry. You have my love, and my condolences. If you ever need someone to talk to, or just to rant, scream, cry, or throw things at, I’m here. I'm your girl!

    Thanks for reading.
    Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being with us.

  3. #3
    GirlAmerica
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    I tend to be high emotion on only those I love deeply.

    My experience in losing my dear grandmother who raised me as her own...
    you cannot not deal with it........
    you are dealing with it just by posting. It is a process, and it will continue.
    My process is still in place (she passed Aug 04) and I am working through it.
    I find myself less and less traumatized and looking toward the beautiful things she left entwined in my heart and soul.
    I understand that really, she has never left me. She instilled things so deeply in me that I know what her answer would be to any question, I can still hear her giggle, I still make family dishes as she did.......etc.
    She remains inside of me, thus never having truly left me.

    It actually is a beautiful thing.

    Sometimes I find myself drawn to the cemetery...I will lay down on top of her grave and just be still and absorb being there.

    I find the child in me that she nurtured and loved...because my own parents were selfish...and she knew what I needed to be okay. She gave that to me.

    I felt like I had built my entire platform of emotional security on her...and when she left this world I felt like a child...although I was a grown woman with my own children.
    However, once I got my footing....I understood...that she had indeed made sure I had built my own strength...and I would be just fine.
    I am just fine.......though my mind, body and soul mourns a loss that I will only feel once in my entire life. My loving parental figure.
    My safe-spot.

    I dont think you should ever supress any feeling...any desire to visit the cemetery...listening to music etc. Do all of it. It is a process. If you dont, it will come out in other areas in unhealthy ways.

    Many hugs, I am so very truly sorry for your loss.

  4. #4
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    Tovlo -

    I'm truly sorry to hear all of this. I don't feel like any words I write can offer much; I can only imagine all of it - everything - just all of the changes in your life right now, and the overwhelming emotions you're experiencing.

    Just know that people care for you, people are thinking of you, and you ARE a wonderful person (you know I think this!).

    I echo what Mempy wrote in that now is not the time to shut down your emotions. They are REAL, and although it is painful, I believe it's only in allowing them to fully work through you, in their own time and at their own pace, without fighting or pushing them away, that you will truly be able to heal. There's nothing wrong with anything you're experiencing and feeling, and I think if you give yourself permission to feel the way you do, then that's the first step in putting yourself first and taking care of yourself.

    I know the feeling of feeling unable to reach out to others or give ANY support/connection to others though. But I think your body, spirit, and mind need to heal, and only once you take care of yourself and all of those areas, will you then be able to fully reach out to others again. The timing of it is not important; it will happen in its own time - just try to let go and just experience what you're experiencing, right this moment. Things will slip back in place of their own accord, as long as you don't fight it all back.

    I do really feel for you. I can only imagine, and I'm so very sorry.

    Hugs!
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  5. #5
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Tovlo, I'm so sorry to hear what you've been going through.

    It seems that everything has piled upon your plate at once.

    From what you have said, it sounds like for you getting these sort of feelings and thoughts out in the open is very important for you coming to grips with things.

    So yes, despite other more "practical" concerns you could be focusing on, this one [writing and exploring your inner landscape] still does seem to take a priority if only to lay a foundation on which you can truly deal with everything else in front of you. If you find it important, do not let guilt or someone else's potential disapproval derail you from taking the time you need for yourself so that you can then fully enter those other situations. You sound like you have a "good voice" inside telling you what you need; listen to it and do not apologize for it.

    I just very much feel for you, especially in a situation where you feel like the place you must enter is devoid of any sort of support structure to help you... and in fact might even just drag you down a bit because they are things you previously left behind in order to free and find yourself. Be kind to yourself and do not be afraid to respect your own limits, giving yourself the space and time you need to deal with things.

    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  6. #6
    homo-loving sonovagun anii's Avatar
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    I had no idea... I'm shocked.

    If you need anything, anything at all, you know how to reach me.

    All I can offer here are HUGS.

  7. #7
    The Black Knight Domino's Avatar
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    Bless your heart, Tovlo. You've had a lot on your plate, sounds like.

    I feel inadequate to give advice, so I'll give you some heartfelt sympathy. Sorry it's not equal to what you're going through right now.
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  8. #8
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    i've experienced the death of a loved one twice:
    the first time, i was 17 and was together with my first girlfriend for over a year (ENFJ). she died unexpectedly of an allergic reaction. having never dealt with emotional pain of this magnitude before, i sort of went into shock for a few days. but i knew right away what i was going to have to do. i decided to set aside about 45 minutes every day to be by myself -- i'd force myself to FEEL all of the emotions (aka sobbing), i'd consciously stop myself from supressing overwhelming feelings, etc. i was a complete wreck for about 4 months, but no one ever really saw it (although i'm sure some people understood what i was going through). but facing my emotions put me in a much better place than other people i've seen go through deaths of loved ones.

    this was a little over 4 years ago, and i can't say i've fully recovered or anything, but i'm doing fine these days.

    second death of a loved one: this one is less extreme because i wasn't anywhere near as close to this person. anyways, a longtime friend in my life (INFP) had been struggling with drug addiction on and off from 13-19. we'd been in bands together (he was a fucking AMAAAAAZING songwriter and singer), and we were about to form a new one. he went to rehab (heroin), had about a month sober, called me to tell me he was excited about starting a band again, and then overdosed about a week later.

    since i already knew something about dealing with death at this point, i gave myself a lot of space. i withdrew from school. the pain i felt ended up being more dull than the pain was from the death of my girlfriend...but i still had to set aside time everyday for myself to face my feelings for at least a month. and it hasn't gone away.

    so yeah, my advice would be...face the feelings, as terrible as it may seem. it's better than the repression route. (it sucks in the short-term, of course, but so does acting out in other ways)

  9. #9
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    tovlo,

    I'm so sorry.

    I've not lost either parent, and I've never been married, so I don't have that kind of advice. I can only share what I've experienced.

    When I was 12, I had my spine fused to correct scoliosis. It was a frightening & painful procedure. The worst part, though, was knowing that I'd never bend my back again. Never feel the comfort of a nice long back-arching stretch, or be able to curl around a stuffed animal and snuggle it. Things would never, ever be the same. They were going to go inside me and change my core--literally.

    My thoughts and fears were so overwhelming that I couldn't face them. I simply didn't have the strength to deal with both the physical and mental/emotional parts of the situation simultaneously. So I set aside the mental/emotional, and took care of the physical stuff. I continued to gather emotional data, but I didn't process any of it. I learned years later that my mother had been very worried because I was generally an expressive child, and suddenly the expressions stopped.

    For a year afterwards, though, I worked through those emotions as I felt the need arise. I would lie on my bedroom floor and remember what it was like to be scared, and I'd cry the fear-tears I had suppressed at the time. I would think about not being able to move and bend like I used to, and I'd cry for the permanent change in my body that I hadn't wanted. Little by little, as necessary, I allowed myself to feel the emotions I'd set aside. I didn't understand what I was doing; I only knew that something inside me needed to think and cry about what had happened.

    And it was good. It worked for me.

    Something has changed at your core--your heart has been changed and it wasn't your choice. Things will never be the same again. You have a lot to work through.

    My point is that you know best how to take care of yourself. Let go of worrying whether or not you're doing it "right". Don't make this (i.e. your own emotions) into another situation in which you are responsible for handling things appropriately. I think that, for the most part, healthy minds know what they need just as healthy bodies feel the need for exercise and sleep. If you aren't able to deal with the emotions now, don't force yourself. If you want to let the emotions wash over you, let them. If one minute you're happy and the next you're sad--be happy, then be sad. This isn't a puzzle to solve or a role to play; this is your own experience.

  10. #10
    Wild Card Atomic Fiend's Avatar
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    I'm honestly sorry to read this, and even sorrier for not being able to give any advice or comfort.

    I can only give my sympathy and prayers.

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