We all experience times of pain. Sometimes it’s emotional pain, like the loss of a loved one. Other times it may be chronic pain someone has been experiencing for a long time. At times, it can feel awkward or unclear as to how to help. I think because we are uncomfortable at times we tend to offer advice or tell them “this too shall pass” or “everything happens for a reason”. I’m guilty of both of these. I do believe these things but is that what that person wants to hear when hurting?
There is no doubt that everyone is different. Having been in this place now for a while I thought I would share what I have learned. I understand that these are just my opinions. Ultimately each person has to choose what they need from others when struggling emotionally or physically.
1. Just listen. Often times the person just needs to be heard. They may even need to have a good cry. Most of us don’t have the opportunity to share what’s going on without others opinions or judgements. Sometimes we may just need to be heard. Nothing more. As human beings we’ve somehow got it into our heads that we have to intervene or fix it. It helps us to feel useful maybe? There is an incredible beauty and peace to hold space for someone. To be the one person they can count on to just listen when needed. I have had to look at myself here. I have often given unsolicited advice over the years. It’s my practice these days to become a better listener whether it’s a friend or family member or a client. How do you tend to respond to someone who is upset and needs to talk?
2. Ask before giving any advice. Maybe they want advice but maybe not. Ask them. When they have shared what’s going on, ask if they would like your help or suggestion. Then honor what it is they want (or don’t want). Let them know you heard them and don’t want in any way to infringe upon their grief or struggle. This is a great way to show you have respect for them and their choices.
3. Hold them or give them a big hug. Sometimes that’s all someone needs. Touch is so healing. Let them cry and just hold them. Let them know you are they for them how ever you can help and if it’s just to hug then that’s fine.
4. Let them know you SEE them not just their pain. Often times when we know someone who has gone through a health challenge or a deep loss we forget that isn’t who they are. They are beautiful human beings with heart and soul. Chronic conditions like Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue can be debilitating diseases. Let’s remember that underneath that physical suffering another soul exists and recognize the whole person not just their symptoms.
5. Provide unconditional support. Unless someone asks it is none of our business how they choose to heal. I learned this loud and clear when going through a course on the options for treating cancer naturally. Just because you might not choose a particular treatment doesn’t mean someone else shouldn’t. Anyone making challenging choices in their health need unconditional support from family and friends. They don’t need us doubting them or their health options. Each of us have to make the choice that we believe is the right one for us. The one we believe in. That in and of itself is important to healing.
I hope this has given you some food for thought in regards to how you might respond to anther’s pain or suffering.
We can all learn from one another and your opinions are welcome. Are there any other ways I have forgotten here?