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  1. #1
    Senior Member ZPowers's Avatar
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    Default INTPs and providing emotional support

    Recently, a very close friend of mine's mother has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. I know her mother decently well and she's a very good woman. My friend is extremely close to her mother and I truly feel for both of them. There have been a number of nights in the past few weeks where myself and one other person have stayed up all night with her (the daughter, my friend) while she broke down. But every time the situation arises, I feel like there is nothing I can say or do to help. Generally, the third person goes very far to be reassuring, trying to soft-pedal certain aspects and things of that nature. I, on the other hand, am very quiet. I don't feel like I can talk to her about her feelings at the moment, as I don't have experience with a similar situation. It'd be insulting to pretend to know it. And I don't have that instinct to soft-sell (not lie about, the other people don't really lie) what, for all intents and purposes, is probably something they know, and know better than me, is true. It feels almost deceitful to me. So, instead, I wind up in this impenetrable wall of uncertainty on [i]what to do to help[/].

    So how is it my INTP brothers and sisters respond? What do you other types find important about supporting someone in a difficult time? Is it about what you say to them, or is just about being there well into the morning, being ready to stay as long as they want? I can do the latter, and will gladly. But something about the former eludes me.

    I attempted a search for a similar thread, which I'm sure exists, but I couldn't find it.
    Does he want a pillow for his head?

  2. #2
    Senior Member InsatiableCuriosity's Avatar
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    I have the same difficulty and had a similar occurrence last year when a close colleague lost his new baby daughter an hour after she was born. Like you, I cannot offer empty platitudes. What I was able to offer was a buffer for him, silence as to his status unless he asked me to speak to anyone on their behalf, and being there to facilitate any ongoing practical needs that they had.

    He is, like me, a largely private person in the work environment and I could only offer him reality - gently, a shoulder and an ear as he faced the unfairness of addicts and the like having healthy babes and their loss.

    Just be there and be real!! Don't offer platitudes simply to fill the silences. He appreciated the ability to be silent or rail at the unfairnesss without comment. Sometimes the other can be stifling for someone in deep trouble or grieving!
    "Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible."
    — Richard P. Feynman

    "Never tell a person a thing is impossible. G*d/the Universe may have been waiting all this time for someone ignorant enough of the impossibility to do just that thing."
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  3. #3
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    some people find logical reasoning helping, but for some people telling the cold truth(logical reasoning in F-language) is the worst thing you can do. Imo just hug her when she starts to cry and just be there for her. Oh yea if she has to do some arrangements with anything related help her with them, also you can help her with unrelated stuff also if she feels like she doesent have the strength to do them. Do some small stuff for her that she would like, for example if she asks you to come over for the night, bring some good food that you can cook together(to get her mind away from this situation, but be sure that she isnt feeling so down that she would be unable to cook with you, so that she wont feel bad for you bringing all this stuff that goes to waste because of her) or candy, pizza or some other fast food is good if she is feeling too down to be able to cook with you. You can rent a movie if she feels like watching one, but be sure that it doesent remind her of the situation or dying too much. some funniest comedy of all time might not be good idea either because she wont be able to enjoy that most likely
    "Where wisdom reigns, there is no conflict between thinking and feeling."
    — C.G. Jung

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  4. #4
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZPowers View Post
    I don't feel like I can talk to her about her feelings at the moment, as I don't have experience with a similar situation. It'd be insulting to pretend to know it. And I don't have that instinct to soft-sell (not lie about, the other people don't really lie) what, for all intents and purposes, is probably something they know, and know better than me, is true. It feels almost deceitful to me. So, instead, I wind up in this impenetrable wall of uncertainty on [i]what to do to help[/].

    So how is it my INTP brothers and sisters respond? What do you other types find important about supporting someone in a difficult time? Is it about what you say to them, or is just about being there well into the morning, being ready to stay as long as they want? I can do the latter, and will gladly. But something about the former eludes me.
    It isn't actually any easier when you do have experience of a similar situation - if anything, it can be more difficult.

    I tend to provide practical, rather than emotional support. We give what we want to receive, I suppose...

    Just listen, if she wants to talk, and be there for her, if she doesn't. Don't let your self-consciousness about your own inadequacy get in the way - that's probably the biggest pitfall for us. The fact is Death makes everyone inadequate - it's the greatest equalizer.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

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    Senior Member ZPowers's Avatar
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    Thanks to all who responded. It is a very difficult situation and I do feel a lot for her, and sometimes I merely worry that she needs more from me, and I definitely want to provide that indefinable thing. This advice alleviates some of that apprehension.
    Does he want a pillow for his head?

  6. #6
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    One more suggestion: you could just ask your friend if there is anything else you could be doing to help her. She might come up with something you wouldn't have considered, but could readily do, and just asking shows that you care.

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    I'm glad you posted this, as I also struggle with knowing how to deal with such situations. It isn't that I don't care, I simply don't know how to convey that. I'm hoping for more responses from more emotionally enlightened folk, and I wish you the best in dealing with a difficult time for people you are close to.

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    Junior Member TruthJourdemayne's Avatar
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    I go straight into trouble-shooting mode. I start looking for solutions to the problem at hand. I can't commiserate, so I help the only way I know how. To sit there and fake empathy would make me feel dirty.. and it would be unnatural.

    When I actually -can- show empathy, its when I too have had the same emotional experience, and can remember how I felt.
    "When the dust has cleared, and victory denied
    A summit too lofty, river a little too wide
    If we keep our pride, though paradise is lost
    We will pay the price, but we will not count the cost

    And if the music stops, there's only the sound of the rain
    All the hope and glory, all the sacrifice in vain
    And If love remains, though everything is lost
    We will pay the price, but we will not count the cost"

    - Rush

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