Entries for year: 2017

Dealing with Loss…with Death

I just got the news…another friend has died. Patricia was an ENTP who was raised in the foster care system in England.  At one point, an ad was put in the newspaper, “Difficult child needs academic home.”  She got one and became both a brilliant architect and a brilliant judge.  Yes, ENTPs do change jobs and careers more than any other type.

I’m also in the midst of planning a memorial service for my Dad, an INTJ who died at the age of 102 and who had the satisfaction of seeing many of his ideas on nutrition finally accepted as correct.  Yes, INTJs have the longest future-orientation of the 16 types; he knew trans fats were bad back in the 1950s and he hung on long enough for others, including the FDA, to see that as well. (See my article, Lessons Learned from my INTJ Father. You may also search for his name, Fred A. Kummerow, and read his obituaries in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune.)

Synchronicity appears once again in my life - I attended a conference recently in which one of the presentations was on Grief and Loss. The presenter was Timothy S. Hartshorne, a professor at Central Michigan University and a college classmate of mine many years ago. 

As he pointed out, “learning how to deal with loss is what life is all about.”  Our life is a series of losses, some small (my doll broke) and some large (my Father died).  You cannot escape loss.

Tim continued:

  • Grief is a journey
  • Grief is individual
  • Certain emotions predominate
  • No one describes it the same way.


He pointed out that healing:

  • Is a long-term process that culminates not as a return to a pre-grief state, but as a growth process
  • Includes thinking of the person without pain but not without sadness


He adds: “Asking when mourning is finished is a little like asking how high “up” is – there is no answer.” *

If you are in a work setting, think about how much time off a grieving person needs and the level of support you can provide.  Be aware that the return to work may be difficult and check on what might be helpful.  Be aware that there may be questions related to meaning and motivation at work.

With friends, the feeling may be of wondering if anyone really understands what you are going through.  And your friends may be wondering what to say and not to say. 

Many people feel awkward about bringing up a death, being afraid to say the wrong thing or to make the survivors sad.  They are already sad. 

Say something to the person: bring it up.  Share a memory, a story about the person. Ask for a story.  Tell what the person meant to you.  Watch the non-verbal signs - they will give you clues for how far to go.  You are likely to be forgiven even if you stumble.

However, please don’t say things like, “It is better now that they are no longer suffering.”  Or “They are in a better place now.”  “It’s part of God’s plan.”  “Cheer up.” 

And with your partner or spouse, figure out how to support one another.  Be aware that there may be changes in the relationship. 

How does one learn to cope with grief?

  • You experience it
  • You get support from others
  • You tell your tale
  • And you might go to therapy


Tim looks at each year of grieving in these terms:

  • Year 1: A year of firsts and disbelief
  • Year 2: A sinking in and coping with the reality of the loss
  • Year 3: Getting used to it and good at it
  • Year 4: Starting to move on
  • Year 5: Healing over the wounds


Life goes on.  I have been blessed with wonderful parents and wonderful friends.  I have lots of memories to sustain me.  And I will experience many more losses in my life, and hopefully get through them, never expecting to get over them. 


 * From Worden, William J. (2002) Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy; A handbook for the mental health practitioner. Springer Pub.

 

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Citizenship

Is looking at nationality and citizenship (synonyms in the dictionary, by the way) the same as looking at a personality typological system like the Myers-Briggs® theory?

When I used to teach the MBTI® Certification course, we’d always search for real life examples of typologies (versus traits).  A typology is a category, like ESTJ (my type) or INFP.  Traits are distinguished by measuring how much you have of a particular characteristic, such as dominance.

And then there’s nationality and citizenship – a typology.  Are you an American or a Brit? Even though we all speak English, there are differences!  Perhaps some might argue that they are more American than another American. Both people would be in the same category and the “more” or “less” label is irrelevant.  (And yes, I know there are dual citizens, but bear with me, please)

In the present political climate, the issue of citizenship has come to the forefront.
Many of us, including me, take citizenship for granted.  We are born into it.  My Father was not – he was a German immigrant in 1923, but he was awarded citizenship as a minor when his parents received their citizenship papers.

I volunteer in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class and occasionally the topic of citizenship comes up, although that is not our focus. We often have discussions like this to encourage the use of language. 

Once we were talking about why people volunteer and one student piped up, “because it makes you look good for the citizenship process.” 

Another time we were discussing famous women in the world, including Susan B. Anthony.  Those who had recently taken the U.S. citizenship exam knew that she was an early leader in the struggle to gain equality for women, including the right to vote. 

Recently some European friends of mine looked at their citizenship status and decided to make some changes. Both were British and both really liked and were proud of being part of Europe.  With the European Union, they could easily go between different countries and work anywhere in Europe.  They felt comfortable being Europeans! 

That feeling came crashing down the day after the Brexit vote, when Great Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU).  Suddenly that comfort was gone. 

Patricia held British and Canadian citizenship papers, but she wanted to be part of the European Union.  She found a way to gain Irish citizenship which keeps her in the EU.   

Ki is a British citizen married to Guenther, a German citizen and they have been together nearly 30 years.  In fact, one of their first dates was in Berlin the day the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989. 

Ki decided to apply for German citizenship; she wanted to remain a European. She had lived in Germany for at least eight years, she knew the German language, and she knew the German legal system and society.  This past Spring, she was awarded it. 

Here is what Guenther wrote about this momentous occasion and I include this with their permission:

“Greetings from a truly European couple:
 
Against the dark background of both our parents’ countries' history I feel especially thankful that Ki, myself and our children have been privileged to enjoy more than SIXTY years of relative prosperity and peace in Central Europe.

And happy that our continuing love for each other has proven that there is a different way to hatred, division, war and bloodshed that our parents had to go through!!
 
 Let us not take any of that for granted,
 Let us fight to preserve what has been achieved,
 Let us work for improvements where changes are needed.
 Without destroying and betraying the ideals!!”


Perhaps the typology of citizenship is not what is important here.  What is important is the peace that is achieved when differences are overcome. As I.F. Stone wrote, we look for “… the hope of someday bringing about one world, in which men [and women] will enjoy the differences of the human garden instead of killing each other over them.”

The typology of personality type may help us understand what is in that garden and the importance of those differences.

 

 

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My TED Talk

Every once in a while, I am reminded that the advice for aging gracefully includes the necessity of mixing it up, of doing things differently, and of taking on risks and challenges.  So I answered the call, literally and figuratively, and agreed to do a TED Talk at my alma mater, Grinnell College. 

I thought it would be a good stretch for me.  And I thought it would be a way to expose a wider audience to personality type.  We’ll see about that one!!  The YouTube video does keep track of the number of people who have watch it, and I’m going to try not to take it personally if my numbers are really low!

Five alums were invited to give talks and I was 20 years older than the next oldest one and 45 years older than the youngest ones.  But they were a real treat to get to know. 

Another alum served as a coach; I think her role also was as a “wrangler.”  She was supposed to keep us on track and rehearse us so that we’d be ready. 

We were to write and memorize a 15-18 minute talk and it was to be on the theme of “When the Bubble Bursts.”  One woman, a dancer, had her dream burst when she suffered an Achilles heel injury.  One man’s burst was when his wife died of cancer, leaving him with two young children.  You get the picture. 

I wasn’t wild about revealing an intimate bubble burst to a wide audience and tried to back out of it. But the wrangler didn’t let me out of it!  What was my setback? You’ll just have to watch! 

When I give a presentation on the MBTI® framework, I prefer to have hours.  You can imagine my consternation at getting it down to 15 minutes.  Will my colleagues lambast me for simplifying the message?  Can I do justice to the concepts?   You get to be the judge.  And I did stretch it to 21 minutes.

I wrote up my ideas and began rehearsing them first via telephone with the wrangler/coach and then in front of friends and family.  Everyone had constructive criticism that I really appreciated.  Each time I got to the part about my bubble bursting, there were fewer tears and breaks in my voice.  ESTJs especially don’t like to lose control and I certainly did!

So I got to campus and met with the coach in person.  She had a few suggestions, but basically I was ready to go.  During dress rehearsal, it was apparent that I had really prepared (a hallmark of ESTJs), but the others were still working on theirs. 

The actual taping was part of a four-hour program – we had student emcees introducing the various segments that included really, really good Ted talks on tape, interspersed with our live ones (you be the judge).  It was a relief to get it done!

There was a big red circle on stage.  We were to remain within that space.  Somehow the sound was difficult to regulate on mine and there’s a slight squawk in the middle.  It was much louder at the time but the tech wizards did their thing to soften it.

It took three months for it to be posted.  Apparently it has to be technically enhanced, then sent to the TED people who review it, and then they post it.  TED talks began at a 1984 conference merging the concepts of technology (T), entertainment (E) and design (D); they are “ideas worth spreading.”

When I got word of the link, I was nervous.  Could I bear to watch it?  I hate to make mistakes…will there be some?  Whew -- I watched it and basically felt okay. 

I wished when we had rehearsed that I could have seen some of how it looked on the screen.  On the tape, I know I was squinting into the lights, so thought I looked a bit angry or upset, when actually I was having fun by the time I was on stage.  I could have corrected that had I seen myself beforehand.  Ah well…ever critical (yes, another ESTJ characteristic!). 

And now I have to resist the temptation to see how many people view it and whether they liked it or not.  It is what it is.  Another ESTJ challenge…letting go!

 

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An Accident and its Aftermath

I got the email late in the afternoon from Barbara, a woman in my condo building.  She was hit by a car while she was in the crosswalk going to her yoga class, hit so hard that her shoes flew off.  She was badly injured (broken pelvis and knees, bruises, scrapes, etc., but no concussion!).

Her message was straight forward describing the event and what she knew then of her injuries.  I asked permission to let others in our building know and said I’d check with her later to figure out what she needed.

Barbara is an ENFJ, always making life better for others.  It was her time to let others make life better for her.  And that was hard for her!

ENFJs are sociable souls who usually know many people.  Lots of friends were at the ready to help her.  But she was in a great deal of pain and really didn’t feel like talking to people much. She carefully monitored her visitor list – that was hard on her and hard on us!

After a week in the hospital, she was anxious to get home.  But given that she couldn’t walk, she needed a daily shot to prevent blood clotting. 

As an ESTJ, I love to organize things.  I quickly got the names of all medically trained residents of our building and sent out an email asking if they could help. Most of the physicians, by the way, admitted they learned how to give shots into oranges in med school, but developed a different skill set in their actual practices.  But I found a nurse and a physician ready to help out.

I saw this process as simply a matter of organization.  Barbara didn’t want to give herself shots and described my finding people to do this for her as “lifting the dreaded self-inoculation and worry that allowed me to focus on rehabilitation and lower the level of physical pain and discomfort.” NFs are typically able to focus on the broad picture and tune into their emotions.  This ST was simply focused on getting the job done! 

Friends stepped in to help with shopping, meal preparation, and rearranging furniture so that it could work with a wheelchair.  Barb with her NF view of metaphors saw this as circling around her and cheering her on. 

Barbara religiously did her rehabilitation, including physical therapy; one resident who had had a knee replacement told her exactly which halls in our building were best to walk in!  There was quite a pooling of knowledge and tips!  And Barbara is recovering well. She was good at setting a schedule and sticking with it. She walked a month before the doctors thought she would. 

Once she had her physical recovery underway she said she could then visualize “what ‘recovery’ looks and feels like,” and next it was time for “an inner examination of the trauma and its experience on me and on the people that matter.”

We were all inspired by Barbara’s gratitude to enjoy each day and be grateful to be alive.  Stopping to enjoy the little things – a flower, a view, a sunset – meant even more.

And Barbara decided this was a good time for soul searching as well – what else was there for her to do, to enjoy, to experience in life?  She explained that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste” and she wasn’t about to let that happen. 

She used her ENFJ type to its fullest both for herself and those who know her.  She taught, she communicated, she grew, and so did we!

 

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