Stop trying to fix it.
These tips all revolve around loss……of any kind. Dreams deferred , or lost forever, are part of life .
To acknowledge a person’s loss in this sensitive manner is definition of a true friend.
I love this so much - thank you! Sometimes we’re so quick (myself included) to try to replace “bad” emotions with “good” ones, but all emotions are equal. They exist because they need to be felt, expressed and acknowledged. Your scripts facilitate all of those things beautifully.
The hardest thing to do is to stay with the person in their pain, in their reality, and not make it about something else. When we respond by telling a story about someone else who went through a similar experience, it takes the focus away from the person who needs it. On the surface, it seems like a good idea, but it shuts down emotions…which is why we do it.
As a woman who has lost a child, I am especially aware of this inability of people to experience the emotional reality of another person's suffering and loss. Most people will say or do anything to get away from the situation.
Amazing article, this is a real gem! Thank you! So incredibly spot on... I’ve been through some very tough times and really wished I’d had this as a resource to help guide others in how it would be helpful to respond... and just be there. Definitely keeping this back pocket for future reference!! So amazingly helpful, thank you for teaching us all.
I love this article. Thank you for writing it, especially for those of us who struggle to find a compassionate response. I would love your thoughts on what to say when a person gets stuck and continues to bring the same pain and drama to you repeatedly. I run out of compassion when a person seems unable or unwilling to get the help they need or change their actions or behaviors. After a while of hearing the same thing over and over again, I'm so tempted to say I just can't do this anymore. I feel like a bad friend, but I have feelings too. Loving people who are in constant pain is hard.
Thank you for this article and for your very clear solutions on how to to engage deeply with others going through loss and pain. After 5 bouts with lymphoma in 5 1/2 years and now facing a terminal diagnosis I have heard it all. I try to teach people what to say and what mot to say. People will say things to me that are unrealistic like “doctors don’t know anything”, or “how dare they say you have 4-6 months to live” or the classic “God doesn’t give you more that you cant handle.” Those comments not only are spoken by people not wanting to hear the truth but also out of fear! It could happen randomly to them!
You play a big part teaching them that more listening and less talking is the best way to to be caring and compassionate.
Thank you. I have actually googled things to say to my adult son who has recently been out of the blue diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Your article is the most helpful thing I have read by far. I’m putting it in my phone notes to access for the many conversations we have when I have no idea what to say or how to be supportive. So very helpful! Thank you again.❤️
So beautifully written and helpful both personally and professionally . I resonated with your words as the recipient of brush offs, platitudes or outright ghosting when we both faced really tough life threatening health issues. These responses were so very painful, left us feeling very alone and significantly compounded our distress. Thanks so much for this beautiful essay !!
This is a really fantastic essay, thank you! I've already shared it with numerous friends. I don't feel like this point of view is discussed often. My partner and I lost our newborn daughter last year and while the sympathy and offering for support was obviously appreciated, we felt every single one of those examples above. The question we struggled most with is "is there anything we can do?" Unless you're prepared to bring our daughter back to life, the answer is we have no idea what you can do. If you want to do something, just try something. The people that were really just willing to be there in grief with us was so meaningful and in many cases has really raised the closeness those friendships.
Such an important read and I really appreciate the advice myself! Saved for future reference!!
Thank you for this! This is really helpful and I will definitely be using this advice.
Thoughtful suggestions for tough conversations. I had one today and tried to practice some of this, in spite of my overwhelming desire to fix the situation. Thank you.
I am past childbearing age and so are most of my friends (though not all). I still think your advice is incredibly valuable for trying to help anyone who is in pain.
I lost my youngest son about 4 years ago and my husband last June.
My son was 38, the youngest of 6 boys. [We were a blended family]
My husband and I were married over 36 years and have 27 grandchildren.
My husband was SO good at just listening and realizing he didn't need to fix things when I talked, unless I actually asked him to 'fix it'.
He would also ask "What's the real problem?", when I was distressed.
I have learned that when others make those kind of comments that show they are fearful, I just tell them 'thanks, I love you, but that's not helpful'.
It usually opens up the conversation to a deeper level.
I am normally very compassionate, but your article and my personal experiences have helped me to really THINK before I open my mouth!!!
I didn't relate to this article. I wouldn't want someone to talk to me like this if I came to them to unload. I would want a bit of compassion, and then moving right along to functional solutions. Why would I be telling someone the extent of my problem if I didn't want to hear what they have to say? Just to throw burden on them? I think not.