I recently had some dear friends go through something really terrible. It's not my place to talk about their tragedy, and I won't, but it has made me dig deep and think about how I can support and encourage these sweet souls while they go through their challenging time.
How do we best "show up" for someone who is suffering? Do we call? Give space? Avoid the subject? Bring food? All good questions. I have walked hand in hand with many clients and friends as they face serious health concerns, big uncertainty, death of a loved one, and various other heavy hitting issues. For me, it was an honor and a pleasure to "step up to the plate" and offer love and support.
If you are finding yourself at the helm of a loved one in need, here are some things to take to heart;
#1-SOMETIMES IT'S WHAT NOT TO SAY;
Be mindful with your words. Thankfully the interwebs are incredibly helpful here! If someone dies, or is sick, or really scared, there are probably 50 websites the say, "Things you shouldn't say to a grieving person...or sick friend...." Google it! Sometimes silence is better than putting your foot in your mouth. Mindfulness with our words is key, especially when we are facing delicate situations.
#2-Help With Chores
When the walls feel like they are closing in, and life is overwhelming it is easy to get behind on daily tasks. A hot meal or some grocery shopping can be powerful. Running an errand, walking their dog, taking their kids to the park, washing their car....scratching a To-Do off the list may prove very helpful. Always do a little feeling out of the situation first. Try not to smother someone with love. With email and texts being so common place, its easy to drop a line in a non-obtrusive way noting that you want to help with errands, if they are interested....and spell it out....say you're interested in making and delivering a meal, or washing their car, or helping with animal, and ASK whether or not that sounds good to them.
Sometimes the best gift we have is an open heart, listening ears, and a quiet mouth. I believe in checking in with loved ones as they face difficulty. Yes, it can feel uncomfortable. Yes, it can feel hard. But it's important to feel validated and heard when life is at it's toughest. Tact, once again, is key. Take diplomatic steps at appropriate times to reach out and ask how their process is going. Prefacing with, " I want to check in with you and what you're going through...if you want to talk...If you DON'T want to talk about it, that's OK, too." If you get a green light and they want to talk, you can simply say, "May I ask you about your grieving?' "Is it OK if i ask about how your health is?"....etc... Then sit back, and use your best present listening ears that you've got!
We cannot take pain away. We cannot fix big problem for others. We can offer our love. We can hug. We can listen. We can be there with them as they suffer and help them through. May you and yours be well. And may this help you care for those you love.
May You Be Well,
*Images compliments of Creative Commons*