I have a cousin like this. She is a wonderful woman who will do anything for you; her heart is pure and larger than the state of Texas. She is, however, a bit of a recluse. She does not enjoy crowds, going out to social engagements, or acquaintances dropping by her home for visits. She loves doing thoughtful acts of kindness for others, however, is most uncomfortable when others return her favors in kind.
What then, does a condoler offer a survivor whose personality ruptures with discomfort at the least glimpse of attention toward them? In such a situation, it is best to allow only the closest of friends and family personally serve the reclusive survivor. It is important however to ensure that the reclusive survivor receives continued and extended support. If they do not receive this support, they may be in grave danger of deepened antisocial behavior and if left unchecked, serious depression.
Allowing the survivors closest friends and family to serve them, offers extended family, friends, and acquaintances a unique opportunity to provide additional support in various aspects. The primary form of support, at this point, transfers from the survivor toward his or her appointed support staff. With such a small support staff working tirelessly, their labors are magnified ten fold. An opportunity to provide support for the small support staff is by proxy, supporting the survivor.
When a loved one passes, generous and loving family and friends offer to take on the survivors daily chores until they recover. An example of these tasks would be mowing the lawn, gathering the mail, and grocery shopping. Unfortunately, the reclusive survivor would feel dreadfully awkward if these kindnesses were accomplished by extended family and friends. It is, therefore, a better solution to provide these services for the support staff who will be called upon to provide double duty to the survivor. Offering these services to the support staff, allows them to provide the added support the reclusive survivor needs without additional stress within their lives and obligations.
Additionally; as time passes, the reclusive survivor will be in desperate need of re-socialization. How then does one re-socialize a reclusive survivor? Remembering that the reclusive survivor does not seek social stimulation, one must somehow derive a unique method of provided socialization without actually socializing personally with the survivor.
Fortunately, there are different types of socialization. One does not necessarily need to be face to face to socialize. I have witnessed two very successful strategies for resocializing reclusive survivors during my tenure as a funeral director.
Successful Technique #1 - The Soft Pen Pal Campaign
The Soft Pen Pal Campaign involves a creative campaign of communication through the written word. One needs to be mindful of the content and regularity of their communications. If the reclusive survivor becomes agitated by the correspondences, one should send them less often or modify the content. The goal is to bring the survivor gently to a place where human interaction is acceptable in his or her life.
Successful Technique #2 - Interest Compatibility
The Interest Compatibility Campaign involves an awareness of the reclusive survivor’s habits and hobbies. If you are aware and well versed in the hobbies or habits of the survivor, you may exercise your personal expertise in these areas to draw the survivor back into their comfort and happy zones of existence. If the survivor is an avid quilter or enjoys clipping interesting recipes, you might send pattern ideas or new recipes to them through the mail. It is not necessarily prudent to show up at their home with dishes of new foods or quilted wall hangings. Sharing creative possibilities at arms length that stimulate the survivor’s mind is generally more acceptable to the reclusive survivor. Later, as time passes and the survivor’s trust in you increases, personal contact may become acceptable.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.