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Thread: NT grief

  1. #1
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Default NT grief

    I have a friend (INTJ, for the record) who is anticipating grief right now, and I've been observing it for ... well, a year, but more intensely over the last month or so because his mother is in the end stage of cancer. In a lot of ways, it seems to me that everybody experiences grief pretty similarly (there's some truth to the predicted stages of grief), but I wonder how different types might express it differently.

    Observations about my friend: His mom has had cancer for... I think two or three years? He has, in some ways, really put his own life on hold to be available to his family. He has only recently been able (willing?) to talk to me about it, perhaps because it's only recently become so intense and imminent that he is compelled to. And he has been very reluctant to accept the inevitability. And he hasn't really wanted to hear my thoughts about death and grief (my perspective is that it's okay and healthy to face it) and surprised me one night by expressing sadness and anger and then telling me that my thoughts weren't welcome (which I didn't take personally - I realize(d) that as a friend, he needed me to listen and not talk; sometimes the most loving thing to do is to keep "loving advice" to oneself). I was surprised because he doesn't really do the emotions and needs thing much, but he was clear about what he didn't need that time.

    Thoughts on my grief experience as an NF: When my brother was dying, I had to talk and write about it a lot, as some of you may remember from NCen. My sister (INFP) did as well. She was working with developmentally disabled adults that summer, and she talked about how healing that was for her. I know that I was pretty vocal about my fears and anxieties, and while I felt that I had to be "strong" for my parents, I never felt that I had to be stoic.

    Not sure.

    Thoughts? Also, what might an NT need from a friend when he's grieving? Does everyone need basically the same thing? At this point, I'm serving a purely practical function for my friend by assisting him with work stuff while he has to be out, but I really just want to squeeze him and tell him that he's loved. But he doesn't really do the hugging thing, and I don't want to creep him out.
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    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    *thinks* hm, this one's obviously never read my blog then...

    Different for each NT type I think. Jennifer said as an introvert, she'd keep up with the routine but fall apart inside. I kept up inside but my routine fell apart - externalized it all.

    I guess what makes it the most difficult for me is when people feel all awkward when I talk about it. They go all quiet and don't know what to say. I wish they'd just talk about it normally like I talk about anything else, and let me handle the emotions, if there are any - there probably aren't at the time. When I'm talking about it, I'm just intellectualizing it. It's later when I'll start thinking on it alone, and that's when I need to be able to recall things other people said to put perspective on it and stuff, so I can start to feel emotions.

    Yeah, that's definitely my advice: don't go all weird and quiet when they talk about it. And don't be freaked out if they seem to be casual about it, or be fooled into thinking if they sound/look casual, that it's a sign that they don't care.
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    Pareo cattus Natrushka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    Thoughts? Also, what might an NT need from a friend when he's grieving? Does everyone need basically the same thing? At this point, I'm serving a purely practical function for my friend by assisting him with work stuff while he has to be out, but I really just want to squeeze him and tell him that he's loved. But he doesn't really do the hugging thing, and I don't want to creep him out.
    I can only tell you what I want / need, Eileen. Maybe it will help.

    When I am in the throws of intense grief what I need most of all is to be left alone to experience it. "Throws" isn't exaggerating. Sometimes it feels as though I cannot function. I don't want anyone around me, because then I feel as though I need to 'pull it together' and interact with them. Intense grief, pain, loss; it is consuming and very, very private. It isn't being stoic, so much as being incredibly vulnerable and not 'in control'. I would feel intruded upon if ANYONE were to see me that way.

    When the worst has past I can have others around. I feel better with others around. Sometimes I'll seek them out to talk, because it does help. Later.

    This signature left intentionally blank.

    Really.

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    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natrushka View Post
    I can only tell you what I want / need, Eileen. Maybe it will help.

    When I am in the throws of intense grief what I need most of all is to be left alone to experience it. "Throws" isn't exaggerating. Sometimes it feels as though I cannot function. I don't want anyone around me, because then I feel as though I need to 'pull it together' and interact with them. Intense grief, pain, loss; it is consuming and very, very private. It isn't being stoic, so much as being incredibly vulnerable and not 'in control'. I would feel intruded upon if ANYONE were to see me that way.

    When the worst has past I can have others around. I feel better with others around. Sometimes I'll seek them out to talk, because it does help. Later.
    This makes a lot of sense and is very helpful, given my experience with this INTJ. I try to let him come to me as a general rule and try not to make any demands of him in terms of emotional revelation. He's very, very private. It may be a strange blessing for him that all of this seems to be happening now and that we are going to be on break from work at Christmas before too long.

    My little NF heart just wants to wrap him up and protect him, but I want to give him what he needs, not what is my automatic reaction to his situation.
    INFJ

    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    This makes a lot of sense and is very helpful, given my experience with this INTJ. I try to let him come to me as a general rule and try not to make any demands of him in terms of emotional revelation. He's very, very private. It may be a strange blessing for him that all of this seems to be happening now and that we are going to be on break from work at Christmas before too long.

    My little NF heart just wants to wrap him up and protect him, but I want to give him what he needs, not what is my automatic reaction to his situation.
    I think if you simply allow yourself to be a safe place that he can come when he needs you, but feels that you are placing no demands upon him to talk (or trying to shape his view of the situation in any way), then he would appreciate that the most.

    I think one of the things that would upset me most is if I finally decided to speak, and someone would try to tell me how I should be feeling, or start offering the "light at the end of the tunnel" or suggesting ways to make myself feel better.

    "Well, excuse me, the point right now is that this is how I feel and I don't WANT to feel better, I want to feel heard!" is what I'd be thinking. I don't want an answer. I just want someone to sit near me in my sorrow [and put their arm around me, if I'm able to handle that]. I want to be able to rage, if I want, and complain, and cry, and whatever else I need to do. Or say nothing. Whatever it is.

    Here is an interesting question that I do not know if you have the answer to: How is his mother dealing with her impending death? I understand that some people approaching death seem to become even stronger because they are embracing their fate and come alive. The stages of grief, once they are worked through, usually leaves one in a state of freedom, because all of the defenses and needs and denials have been stripped away and they have nothing left to lose, so they can give everything. How is she, facing this ... and how is that impacting your friend? Is he having a harder time than she is facing her death? I am just curious.
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    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    I probably wouldn't want people interfering with my emotions. In other words, let me do my own thing and don't try to make me feel better if I don't seem to be responding positively to that.
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

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    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

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    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Here is an interesting question that I do not know if you have the answer to: How is his mother dealing with her impending death? I understand that some people approaching death seem to become even stronger because they are embracing their fate and come alive. The stages of grief, once they are worked through, usually leaves one in a state of freedom, because all of the defenses and needs and denials have been stripped away and they have nothing left to lose, so they can give everything. How is she, facing this ... and how is that impacting your friend? Is he having a harder time than she is facing her death? I am just curious.
    This is a good question and, I think, completely relevant. However, I'm not really privy to the answer because I don't know her. I know that she is *very* religious and has a lot of hope in an afterlife, but I think that she's been uber-focused on beating the cancer (she has been in stage four for years now) such that I really don't think they've talked much about the possibility of dying. And this is an area where I think my experience with a loved one dying is quite different. My parents were extremely honest about my brother's prognosis, and my brother wasn't really able to grapple with the possibility of death. He just lived from day to day, so he didn't struggle against it; since he wasn't consumed with fear, we were less fearful.
    INFJ

    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    Thoughts? Also, what might an NT need from a friend when he's grieving? Does everyone need basically the same thing? At this point, I'm serving a purely practical function for my friend by assisting him with work stuff while he has to be out, but I really just want to squeeze him and tell him that he's loved. But he doesn't really do the hugging thing, and I don't want to creep him out.
    Went through the pain of losing a dear childhood friend. It was hell watching someone you love fight to live but still die. It took me 2-3 years before I could talk about it actually. I'd cry for no reason alone in those years, but on the surface I'd carry on laughing/smiling. So everyone thought I was ok.

    It was easier faking than having to deal with the "oh, I'm so sorry, I also experienced that, don't take it so hard, hug hug" crap, because on hindsight, I guess I felt that belittled the intensity of what I was going through.

    Simplistically, perhaps Ns see things how they wish it to be. And the T means they try figure out logical ways to achieve that. But there is no logic in someone dying and no logic in pain, and no solution for that. So the systems for working things out over-run.

    What helped then were friends who were undergoing the same loss, we'd go find some quiet activity to do together. Sitting on the beach. Picking up shells. Giving the mind some quiet and learning to breathe again. Sometimes we'd not talk at all. Contact hurts during those times too btw. I don't want to be touched. I don't want pity. I don't want sympathy. I just want space, but not to be alone, if you can understand that?

    Acceptance of loss probably comes slower to NTs vs NFs.

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    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aelan View Post
    It was easier faking than having to deal with the "oh, I'm so sorry, I also experienced that, don't take it so hard, hug hug" crap, because on hindsight, I guess I felt that belittled the intensity of what I was going through.
    Yeah, that's really condescending and awful. That's no way to treat a grieving person. Really, my impulse to hug him (and I won't unless he initiates it or otherwise indicates that's what he needs or wants) is because I absolutely don't know what to say to him, and a hug would (to me) adequately communicate my sincere care for him in silence. It's just terrible to say to someone that their loss "isn't so bad." It's the worst damn thing in the world, in that moment.
    INFJ

    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    http://www.typologycentral.com/forum...html#post90045 i mentioned how i reacted to loss here.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
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