Here's a bit from a post I wrote at the time, “I Know a Woman:” (Hint: I was this woman)
“Right now this woman is having a mini-wakeup call – a small awakening to what could be a new reality for her body. She is so very grateful for the doctor and the people in her life who take time to listen, but don’t venture to offer the false reassurance, “You’ll be fine.” Because we don’t know. We don’t know what they’ll find. So, please, she asks, let her be in the space of uncertainty, the space of unknowing.
Right now she has a lot of questions. Does she put her life on hold? Hold her breath till she knows? How does she lovingly support herself through this time? Who can she lean on for support? Who are the people who are really able to be there for her, rather than needing her to comfort and reassure them that she will be “fine;” that it’s “nothing?”
I trust she will be fine one way or the other simply because of her peace, her trust, and her faith that she is living her life as it comes. She will be “fine” because she will face what comes to her with courage, with love, and with the same belief in possibility that she usually has. And, at times “fine” might include tears, anger, and fear.
…This woman enters these next few weeks of uncertainty wanting to be very real about it, and with as much grace, dignity, and ease as she can muster. She will welcome all of the many feelings and thoughts that may dance through her days.”
How often do we find ourselves not knowing what to say when someone is scared, angry, grieving, or lost? Blurting out things like “You’ll be fine. You’ll get through this. You’ve got this!” Maybe we say these things because we’re afraid too. Or we want to smother the person in comfort, to take away their fear or pain as quickly as possible. Or we want to cheerlead with a strong vote of confidence.
We mean well. We care. We are not bad or insensitive people, and we probably haven’t been taught how to be with uncomfortable emotions. We can do better. Because these messages can leave people feeling even more alone, misunderstood. Sometimes it’s better to do as my friend, Lori, says and take out the duct tape and zip it… just listen. Say nothing. Sometimes there are no words.
When someone you love is struggling or suffering, what would it be like to simply sit with them, allow them to feel what they’re feeling, let it be ok to admit that what’s coming is unknown and scary, and be uncomfortable together?
How do you want people to show up for you in these moments of uncertainty?
Brené Brown has a fantastic short video on Empathy. “Empathy fuels connection. Empathy is feeling with people,” she says. And she highlights what a gift it is when we don’t need to try to make things better. I highly recommend you take a few minutes right now to watch it and then think about bringing this into your way of being. There are endless opportunities calling for empathy.
This is what the #AtoZChallenge has me wondering about today. What things have people said to you that you wish they hadn’t? What’s been helpful instead? What words or action fuel connection? Which ones leave you feeling more alone?
Want to read another blog about this? I think Kevin Thompson does a nice job in “You Don’t Know that I’ll Be Fine.”