12 Challenges for Grieving Extroverts

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Litsa Williams

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A while back, Eleanor wrote a great post on grieving as an introvert. If you missed it, you should check it out as soon as you're done here. I think those who've been paying attention will agree: There's no question introverts have recently been having their day in the sun. After the fantastic book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking was published a couple years ago, the internet was flooded with articles about what it means to be an introvert.

Being an extrovert, on the other hand, remained about as interesting as being right-handed. We extroverts are always all over the place anyway, being all outgoing and setting the cultural norms. What’s there to talk about? This is why I was a little thrown off when, after deciding to do a podcast on introverts and grief, Eleanor asked me if we should also do a podcast on extroverts and grief. Everyone always acts like extroverts have it so easy... Would there be enough to say?

Turns out there is enough to say, and not just because we extroverts love talking things out. Once I gave it some thought, considered a few of the grievers I've worked with, and chatted with some extroverted grieving friends, I realized extroverts actually face a lot of unique challenges. So we created a second podcast on grieving as an extrovert and decided it would be worth a mention here on the blog. Because guess what? Being an extrovert isn’t always as easy as it looks, especially when it comes to grief.

the map of an extrovert's brain

Before we start, a quick disclaimer: It is neither better nor worse to be an introvert or an extrovert. Each personality type has its perks and its challenges. Sometimes introverts and extroverts struggle to understand one another, but a bit of communication can help ease the tension. We could say a ton about introverts and extroverts, but I think the easiest way to understand the differences is this: Introverts relax and recharge best alone; being in groups is draining. Extroverts recharge and get energy from others.   We are all somewhere on the spectrum between fully introvert and fully extrovert, so don't assume this is all or nothing. But if you have any extrovert tendencies, you may have some unique experiences as you grieve.

Today, we have a quick list to highlight the tough stuff about grieving for those on the extroverted end of the spectrum. You know grief is challenging your extroverted nature when:

1. You are quiet or don’t make eye contact for more than 12 seconds and everyone around you is asking, "What’s wrong?"

why you no call me

2. You desperately want to hang out with your friends, but no one is calling because they assume you want "alone time" after your loss.

3. You decide to go out because you know it will help your mood, then feel guilty you went out because maybe your friends are right: You should want alone time.  

4. When you decide to take some alone time with your grief, it is so unusual that your friends and family panic that you have spiraled into a bottomless pit of despair.

silver linings playbook gif

5. Talking about your emotions and the person you love is helpful to you, but it makes the people around you SUPER uncomfortable.

6.  You keep excessively busy doing things and spending time with other people, only to realize what looked like healthy coping was actually avoidance.

7.  When your grief group ends, you desperately want everyone to stay in touch and are shocked when not everyone is on board with a grief happy hour.

You must be confused... It seems you have your Facebook status mixed up with your diary again.

8. You share your feelings, memories, and grief all over social media. Some other people think it’s creepy.

9. People around you think you are fine because you are out and about, but you're not fine.

10. You were already a bit more impulsive than you introverted besties, and now you’re unbelievably close to quitting your job, selling your house, and moving to Bora Bora.

justin timberlake

11. You see someone reading ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ on the subway and you can’t help but casually interrupt them to share that you read it too, right after your husband died.

12. People keep telling you that you need to take care of yourself and contemplate the deep impact of your loss because they assume you can’t possibly be self-reflective or introspective.

So How Can I Help Myself as a Grieving Extrovert?

1. Give yourself permission to go out and be with people. It is not something to feel guilty about and can really help in your healing.
2. Plan for some alone time. That may not always come as naturally, but time to write, journal, meditate, and be with your thoughts can be very important. Carve out the time, even if it isn't easy.
3. Tell your friends what you need. What you perceive as them avoiding you may be them trying to give you space that they assume you want or need. Let them know calls, texts, and get-togethers are appreciated.
4. Don't fool yourself into thinking that keeping busy = healthy coping. Check out our post on the myth of keeping busy for more on this.

Keep the conversation going by leaving a comment. And don't forget to subscribe to get our posts by email. If you prefer to listen to your grief support, check out this podcast where we discuss extroverts and grief.

We wrote a book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
real-life book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

Let’s be grief friends.

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7 Comments on "12 Challenges for Grieving Extroverts"

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  1. hgf  May 28, 2020 at 3:08 pm Reply

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  2. Sandy LeVan  June 5, 2017 at 11:57 am Reply

    Wow! This hit the nail on the head for me! Thank you so much!

  3. Dee Anna  November 24, 2015 at 1:50 pm Reply

    It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I was an extrovert. During the years that I was with my boyfriend, I always made sure everyone received a school picture of his son, I always made sure everyone was either called or sent a text message about get togethers & even when Steve was in the hospital the last 30-days of his life, I always made sure everyone was updated with latest information when doctors had been to visit; so after he passed I thought I would be kept in the loop. Especially when his death certificate came because we were uncertain what it would say, I thought I would get a call, but that didn’t happen. I felt as though I was missing out & it wasn’t until I was talking about this to a grief counselor that she pointed out that I was obviously the extrovert of his family, always making sure everything was done. It made a lot of sense to me & has helped me be a little calmer when dealing with certain things that involve his family. Thank you for the post.

  4. D. Johnson  January 28, 2015 at 12:42 pm Reply

    I love things that help me understand people better, and this did. I work hard to remember, and understand, that not everyone sees the world in the same way. P.S., I’m an introvert, so I needed the brain map!

  5. Margaret Honnold  January 27, 2015 at 3:10 pm Reply

    I laughed out loud when I read this! Thank you, it is soooooo me. I want to copy and hold it under the noses of some of my friends and family. I always suspected that I turned into an extrovert upon leaving my teens – now I know for sure and the grief of the last 10 years (8 years as a caregiver for my husband with Alzheimer’s Dementia and 15 months as a widow) has not change a thing. Bless you for helping me to know it OK. Margaret.

    • Eleanor  February 3, 2015 at 4:36 pm Reply


      It’s definitely okay!!! Grief is as individual as you are as a person as well as the unique relationship you had with your husband. I’m sorry about your husbands illness and death. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for reading.


  6. Janna  January 27, 2015 at 2:27 pm Reply

    Yes!! This is my favorite post of all time in the history of ever when it comes to grief. I don’t have anything to add because frankly, you nailed it. #4 is so true. My son’s going home anniversary is in December and I shut down every year for about a month. I still went to work. I fed and cared for my living children. But, outside of what was absolutely necessary to function in day to day life, I can not do anything holiday-ish. The people around me do not know what to do or how to interact with the normal fairly chipper Janna.
    #5- Yes! I am a social worker (touchy feely kind of gal) and a blogger. Some people love that I talk about Thomas and sadness and all that goes with it. Some don’t. I have learned much better boundaries over the last four years of who to share with and who not. Sometimes I get burned because I forget.
    I am married to an introvert, so it has been a struggle to support each other with the way to meet each other’s needs, while taking care of ourselves. Great post ladies!

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