Entries for month: August 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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