Driver or Passenger?


My uncle taught me the proper way to purchase a used vehicle when I was a young adult. We went to the used car lot and as the salesman approached us, my uncle said to me, “Let me begin the conversation.” As the man made his way toward us enthusiastically, he greeted us and said, “So, what can I do for you today?” My uncle responded, “No,” he replied unflinchingly, “it’s not what you can do for us, it’s what we can do for you.” I stood back and wondered how the man would respond. He smiled knowingly and said, “Yes, you are right.” And then we went and bought a vehicle from him.

It’s not what grief will do to me, it what I can do with my grief. This is a completely different way to approach the role of grief in your life. It has a unique role in your life as you adapt to your life without that very special person.

Grief works itself out in life, through living, in movement. You can’t drive a parked car. You must be in “drive” to work through grief. That’s the nature of grief. You want to be the driver, not the passenger. That does not mean the road you travel on will not have its share of curves, detours or stop signs. Your journey will not be predictable. The landscape will change along the way.

Nevertheless, grief has a significant place in your life as a result of death. It won’t suddenly disappear, leaving you unscathed. So why not ask it to come and then you decide what role you will give it in your life today.

Home Alone


I had to adjust to being home alone this past year. My wife, Erica, who is a teacher and choral conductor, went back to work and leads a very full life.

After 28 years of having my own heavy schedule, I am shifting directions in my work and find myself spending more time at home reading, writing and researching as I embark on a career change.

As a natural extrovert, a former pastor, and an individual who is used to being with people constantly, I now find myself adjusting to a new way of living life. It’s had its challenges for sure.

Following the death of a loved one, you will want to spend some time alone. Grieving starts in the heart as you begin to sort out all of the deep emotions and sense of loss that permeate your internal life. Your heart is your safe place where only you can be still and reflect.

But all of us will need to leave our home and begin to express what is going on in the inside and move outside the door of our heart to interact with the world and people once again.

It’s okay to be home alone for a while.  But you will need to invite others in for a visit.

A Grieving Preference

I preferred not to be left alone.  Many people have come to believe that those who are grieving need to be left alone until they miraculously emerge from their “grieving” cocoon.

What’s really important to know and understand is that, depending upon your grieving preference, you may or may not need a lot of people around during your time of deep grief.

This is important to understand in your own personal journey and also if you are caring for those around you.   Depending upon your personality, you will grieve differently from the person next to you – there are some important reasons why.

I need to be with people.  I get my energy from being with people.  I am an extrovert.  Other people may be introverts.  They prefer to spend more time alone, to think and reflect.  Both approaches to grief need to be honored and acknowledged.

I once told my congregation that the most difficult time of my week for me – following the death of my wife first wife, Pam – was after Sunday morning worship service. I would arrive back at my house; the kids had come and gone; and I was alone.  Some people would be happy to go home and sit in a quiet place and think.  But not me.

An invitation to supper.  A phone call to go out for a beer.  A drop-in visit for a conversation… all of the above would have been helpful for me.  But that’s not true for everyone.

Have you ever considered your grieving preferences based on your unique personality?

Moving Inward or Onward?

Some people find it uncomfortable to move into grief. Others try to ignore grief altogether. Some choose to “move on” quickly.

Much is being written about grief and mourning these days. The tragic mass-shooting in Connecticut of innocent children and teachers has caused a flurry of commentary on the topic.

People respond to grief according to their specific personality and worldview.  That’s why we hear so many varying opinions and solutions. Is there a right or wrong way to do grief?  Is there a right or wrong way for you?

You are who you are. Knowing what makes you unique will help you grieve well when you encounter loss.  It will also help you to be more sensitive in understanding another’s grief experience.

Your unique personality will determine how you process grief.  Are you an extrovert or an introvert?  Are you someone who needs to be surrounded by people? Or do you prefer your alone time? How might this single character trait affect your grief journey? Consideration of this one small factor plays a huge role in healthy grief.  And there are many others that make up your personality. Knowing what you need in grief is so important.

That’s why “moving inward” (or “knowing thyself” as the ancient Greeks would say) is the catalyst to eventually moving onward to a healthy and intentional grief.

Do you have an experience based upon your personality that helped you to understand or grieve well?

We’d love to hear your stories, comments or questions. Please click here to add yours.


You have a unique personality.  You will look at grief and proceed into it based upon your personality.

The reason why grief is so complicated is because you and I are complicated.  You can’t place a grief journey in a tidy little box or suggest that it will play out in a certain way. No one’s grief is like yours because no one is like you. And so, when people try to understand and identify with you in your grief journey, they are coming from their own perspective and personality.

There are a number of factors that will determine your approach to grief.  If you know what these are, you can better enter into grief knowing confidently how you may respond based upon your unique personality.

Recognizing, understanding and intentionally letting others know your unique personality will help them to better understand you and walk with you in your grief.

Based upon your personality, what do you think would make your grief journey unique?

Helping Myself

Grief is often faced alone. What makes it even more difficult is not knowing how to face it. Here are five things you can learn about that can help you make the journey easier. To learn more about each one, click on the title of that section. For more ideas and stories that illustrate that section, click on that title in the Tags section in the right sidebar.

1. Planning

Life seems to come to a halt when we are grieving. we can choose to enter back into life on our own terms and at our own pace. In order to do this, it is important to prepare, plan and proceed intentionally.

2. Cycles

Grief is cyclical.  It can and will return. When this happens, you need to know that this is normal.  Don’t fight it. Learn how to work with it.

3. Transformation

Apart from the journey of dying, grief could be the deepest and most difficult place that you will enter into as a human being. How you approach this journey will turn you inside out and transform you as a person.

4. Personality

You will look at grief and proceed into it based upon your personality. Learning about your unique personality and sharing that with others can help you to better deal with your grief.

5. Friendship

Having someone to share this journey can be tremendously helpful. How can you find and help someone become a Grief Friend to you?