There are moments in life when things simply weigh heavily on my heart. It seems there is so much loss, fear, pain, and longing in the world, and I feel it all today.
I had a lengthy conversation last night with a woman who has again become such a dear friend and encouraging presence in my life about how people respond to others’ pain. I have actually had this conversation with another new friend recently as well.
People say stupid things. As I am sitting in the darkness, in the heaviness of my reality, people say things that make me want to punch them in the throat. (Not that I would ever do that, ever.) People say things that make me want to respond in knee-jerk anger, out of the painfulness of the situation and their lack of understanding. But, the thing is this: Largely, these people – they have the best of intentions. They think they are helping. They are doing the best they can, just like we all are. They don’t know what to say.
Many of you read this blog. I would venture to guess there aren’t many of you that haven’t experienced some sort of loss or deep pain in your life. I think any of us that go through something so raw and real have a better understanding of others’ darkness, even if it looks completely different from our own. At least we begin to understand that we may never understand another’s reality – and we understand there is nothing we can do or say to make them “feel better”.
I won’t speak for everyone, but these two women and I, at least, agree: The very best thing you can do when you are wanting to be a friend to someone hurting: Simply say – “That really sucks.” Acknowledge the absolute crappiness of the situation. Sit with them. Listen. DON’T say: “Everything is going to be okay.” because all I want to say is “How do you KNOW that!?! It might not be! In fact, it’s already NOT okay.” I won’t go into all the other things I wish people wouldn’t say. I simply want people to say “That sucks.” And I want them to sit next to me in my darkness for awhile, trusting that eventually, I will come back into the light.
I always do. But I need my space and time in the darkness, and it can’t be rushed. In order to be a genuine, authentic person – I have to own my feelings, every day. I have to trust that the love, the strength, and the peace will always be there, and I will always claw my way back to them.
So if you find me sitting in the dark, tears streaming down my face, incapable of giving you anything…please: Sit next to me, take my hand, say “This really sucks”, and just be with me for awhile.