Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Stand by me


Are you fully there for people, or someone who says I’m here because that's what is expected of you while you edge away quietly?

I used to edge away quietly. I think a lot of us do that when we’re younger. We panic because we don’t know what to say or we want to fix things because we aren’t seasoned enough by life to know sometimes there is nothing to say and usually there is no way to fix things. 

Besides, what most people going through something want is not to hear empty words or for someone to turn over earth trying to fix something they know can’t be fixed. They want people who can sit there with them in their pain and not turn away because it’s uncomfortable, awkward, difficult to see someone you love suffer, or hard not to overlay the situation on your own life as something that could happen to you which brings your own fears to the table. 

We’re human and we’re selfish. Our instinct is to protect ourselves even in situations where we are not the one hurting the most. The easiest way to do that is distance.

I also think we expect each other to move on from grief, but the truth is we deal with grief forever because loss changes who we are. Grief re-shapes us and we are never the same, so we owe people an understanding of that process too. 

There are a lot of lessons I wish I learned earlier in life, but this is definitely one of the top three: how to sit beside someone hurting or grieving and simply be there with them in their pain. I'm happy that I don't turn away from doing it now though, and that I've learned that I can't always soothe with words or fix, but that I can just show up in person or on the phone or via text and not leave when someone is in pain and that most of the time what best serves any situation is the willingness to be there.

File under: things I think about, not something I am currently in the midst of dealing with. I feel the need to clarify or people are all what's wrong. Nothing.

How are you doing with being there?


18 comments:

  1. I feel like being there, even if it is just to listen, is the one thing I'm actually solidly good at when it comes to friendship & such. I'm not great at always reaching out, I'm terrible at being the one to make plans, but I've always been the friend who will drop whatever & listen and/or be there if asked.

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  2. I learned this lesson when a friend lost her baby at 20 weeks. She lives far away but I texted her, sent her gifts and just checked in on her. I knew me asking how she was doing wasn't going to remind her that she lost the baby - she is never going to forget that and pretending it never happened wasn't going to help anyone. Its been almost three years and she has a beautiful 1 year old girl but I let her know that I think of her baby and that he did exist and mattered. Ever since that experience we've become much better friends. Its not easy but its so worth it.

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  3. It's tough for me to listen to someone hurt when there's nothing I can do about it. I HATE that. (I mean, who doesn't?!) One of my best friends was dumped and displaced by her fiancée a month before Christmas and it devastated her. I feel fortunate that I have a flexible job where I can rearrange my life and be there for her, but it's still emotionally exhausting and uncomfortable to just sit with someone while they cry and yell and stare off into space. Since then my friend has healed immensely and I'm incredibly happy for her and proud of her. It's an oddly good feeling being there for the good and bad.

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  4. I always have felt like that's one of my gifts... I have always been that person that sits in hospitals with friends or listens hours on end to crying hearts... I have such empathy for people &I know I want the same treatment in my life so I know people need it.
    sure anything's not wrong? ;) haha - I had to

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  5. I think once you've personally experienced the grieving process, you have a better understanding and know how to help those experiencing it in the future.

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  6. I've gotten better about this as I've gotten older too, but I also think it's because I understand my people better now. Because I am not this person - I want to be left alone. I assumed other people are the same, but some are and some are not. I'm better now at knowing who just wants someone to sit with them.

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  7. So true about grieving forever, I am so glad I learned the lesson that that is okay. I have a friend going through a hard time and I needed this reminder to just be there. She was for me and I need to do it for her instead of talking.

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  8. I struggle with this because I take another person's problems and put them on my shoulders instead of just being there for them. To allow them the grace to do whatever they need to do and know that I love and support them unconditionally. Emotions also scared me, so a younger me also hid, which makes me sad for younger me and appreciative of how I've changed and grown and am better able to be there for family and friends too.

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  9. This is something I struggle with because I hate seeing others in pain and I never know the right thing to say or do. I just sit there awkwardly and say I am here for them to lean on and offer an ear to listen.

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  10. I've learned that sometimes just listening is enough, but it's something I learned slowly. Seeing someone in pain is uncomfortable for me because all I want to do is fix it. NOW! But, sadly that is not how life works. Grief never leaves, we just get stronger every day to hold it up. Some days we aren't strong, and those are the days we need people to help us hold up the weight.

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  11. i don't think i am very good at being there. i am always worried about saying the wrong thing or making it worse. i need to learn to just bee there and to shut my mouth.

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  12. I know this might sound really morbid...but I personally think the more people you lose in your life whether it's through death or just doing away with for your own good...or both, the easier it becomes to be able to be there for other people going through it. The more loss you have in your life, the more you understand how to handle "being there".

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  13. I think if you offer yourself to someone, you have to be all there. For this reason, it's better to consider who and what you're offering yourself to so you CAN be all in. Like, people who oblige for everyone struggle with this.

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  14. You're exactly right. No words can comfort extreme loss or grief but being there in person to show support means a lot even if it's a phone call or text depending on distance/situation, people grieving need to know they are loved or supported while they work through their pain.

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  15. I recently saw this article that gave 23 ideas to show a person you cared when they're going through a tough time and I really liked some of the ideas since they're more concrete ways. https://medium.com/@katiehawk/how-can-i-help-23-ways-to-support-someone-going-through-a-tough-time-91b3c8c184a

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  16. I'm pretty goodish at the there thing. I need that, too. For most of my life, I've not been around many people who understand the amount of grief I've experienced, so it has felt very lonely at times and I don't want other people to feel that way. The night that I read this post the first time, I was really missing my dad and I couldn't figure out how to verbalize what I needed. I think the proximity and comfort of someone just being there would have helped... IDK. I feel like I do well with empathy though.

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  17. I love this post. I definitely agree 100% with this: "I also think we expect each other to move on from grief, but the truth is we deal with grief forever because loss changes who we are. Grief re-shapes us and we are never the same, so we owe people an understanding of that process too."

    I do sometimes still stress about saying or doing the "right" thing (even when I know, on some level, that there IS no "right" thing to say or do). It has gotten easier, though, to simply sit and listen when someone needs it. I think experiencing grief in my own life has helped me understand that people don't need you to fill the silence or make light of a difficult situation when they're going through something.

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  18. Everything you said in here is so true, it's like you've been in my mind from the past year. It's been hard for me the past couple of years between my dad passing & work things that are out of my control (that have been for multiple years at this point) and I know that some people who I thought were friends have just disappeared. I could use them so much at this point when I've been feeling pretty down but they're just not there. It's pretty saddening to me.

    I've always been pretty good about making sure it's not just me saying I'll be there, making sure I put my actions where my mouth is. Since it's been happening to me the past few years I have made massive strides to make sure I am putting my actions where my mouth is with both friends and family.

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