Lately I have concentrated on being a listener and learner. I have seen all sorts of circumstances unfold for families all around me, on the news, and on social media. One of my sisters told me not to long ago that I am an empath, meaning that I soak up too much of what’s around me, and I am sure she is right about that. It wasn’t a compliment or a put down in my mind but I do see how it can negatively impact me and not be used in a helpful way. So that’s where I decided to try to use it as a learning tool. How do people cope? How do they process the negative, the heartache, the stressful, the grief? If you’ve been around Windgate Lane long enough then you know I have battled grief and continue to do so, so it was personal for me to really take it all in and process it in a positive way (empath, remember?). (read previous posts here, here, here, and here)
There is a term that I need all of you to recognize before we go any further though.
Meaning: Those that say the things.
So I found that most of the advice given is from these TheySayers. For example: “They say that time heals all wounds” ” They say that love lasts forever” “They say that good things take time” “They say if you love something, to set it free” “They say that I’m crazy.” Ok, that last one has only been said a few times. But who are these TheySayers?! They must get tired… so much advice.
I say these things a bit facetiously, but I do understand the sentiments behind them when they are shared. It’s the knowledge that there isn’t a perfect thing to say to someone who is picking up the pieces of their heart, who is battling cancer, who is struggling with depression, who is battling addiction, who has just lost the love of their life, who is feeling lost. If I knew the words that could make me feel better on down days then I would have tattooed them on my face!
We’ve all adopted the TheySayers thoughts as go to’s in times of distress. And I’m guilty too (raises hand)! I have sat, hand in hand, with my dear friend hours after her husband died in an accident and not had one word in my mind that could possibly bring comfort or meaning to her. I’ve sat with my 9 year old while he couldn’t sleep for nights after a traumatic loss and literally begged my brain to find the words! But once you have truly known that kind of grief, you know that the TheySayers had good intentions, but brought no comfort.
So how do we give comfort? How do we receive comfort?
We don’t put our expectations on them.
Let that soak in. We don’t get to decide how they handle their situation. We don’t get to decide when they should stop feeling bad. We don’t get to judge who they want to talk to or don’t want to talk to. We don’t get to feel bad that they didn’t take our advice. And why? Because every single situation is different. It is never cut and dry. One person’s walk through grief is explosive and angry and they are going to tell you about it, while another’s is silent and long and happens in waves and neither way is wrong.
But how do we know what to do for them, Bridget?! Good question. I’m still working on that but the one tried and true method I have is doing two things.
- Prayer/ Good thoughts/ Good vibes- whatever your choice is. For me personally, I pray for God to surround them in love and comfort and provide them with the right people to help them through such a difficult time and if that’s me, then I am happy to serve. Give them the love of your thoughts. Don’t forget them.
- Which leads to number two. Has it been on your mind to call them, but maybe you haven’t because of the aforementioned, I have no clue what to say convo? I get it. Text them and say you just had them on your mind and you’re sending love. It’s that simple.
To feel that you have not been forgotten, that your pain is not invisible, is a huge gift. Don’t understand what someone else is going through? Take heart, they may not know exactly what they are going through either and may just need to know they aren’t alone. Don’t forget them. Their silence, while suffering, is not usually a choice.
Matthew 5:4 Says ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’
Can we fix, can we change, can we talk it away? Probably not. Can we comfort? Yes. In the smallest ways anyone can bring comfort. Never decide that what you can offer is not enough. A text, a call, a milk shake on a random afternoon.
Let’s provide the comfort and let the TheySayers rest for a bit.