This is a re-blog of something I wrote a while ago. It came up recently and so I thought it needed to be said again.
People can say stupid things. It is amazing to me that they don’t really think about what they are saying. When I ran a grief support group I heard some goodies.
You can have another baby (to someone who just had a miscarriage)
God needed another angel in heaven ( to someone who lost a child)
Your husband wouldn’t want you to be sad (to a new widow)
I’m sure things are better now (to someone whose wife died a few months ago)
God never gives us more than we can handle (to someone who lost two teenagers in an accident)
Everything will be alright (to someone diagnosed with a fatal illness)
Sometimes when we don’t know what to say we can fall into the trap of saying something stupid or offensive. We may not mean it that way but that is how it comes out. When people are going through tough times they don’t need to hear these kind of answers. They need to hear
Can I bring dinner by tomorrow?
I’m going to a movie tomorrow can I pick you up?
I am so sorry
I will call you soon (only if you really will)
Give a hug
Cry with them
Solid concrete help is what is needed. Only say what you mean. If you can help try to do something specific. Don’t just say “how can I help?” Instead ask if you can pick up children, run an errand, offer a day out. Each individual needs different things. You have to gauge what will help.
Most importantly offer compassion and love. Nothing is more needed. If you have suffered a similar loss you may understand better what they are going through but don’t assume it will be exactly the same. Just being there is critical. Don’t just say something…..do something!
I have know some people who have the ability to make everyone laugh. They are just naturally funny. Many comedians have this natural ability. A great many of them use events in their own lives to laugh at. These things and usually commonplace and occur in most of our lives and that is why they are so funny.
However, the things they make so funny often contain a great deal of pain. Joking about something becomes a way to deflect the pain that is underneath. Sometimes making a joke covers up depression and anxiety. A number of comedians suffer on the inside. Also, the joking hides insecurities. When I say this I think about Joan Rivers who seemed to see herself as unattractive. A lot of her comedy routines focused on looks.
We all do wear masks and don’t let the world see the struggles that are going on inside. Some people never take the masks off. I knew someone who was funny until the day he died and it was only afterward that I discovered he suffered with depression. It would have been so nice to nurture the person behind the mask.
On Word Press is it possible to discard the mask and let the true person out. It is all right to share the thoughts that plague us. In my many years I have learned to share the person inside more and more. If I am not accepted as I am then I don’t need those people. Life is too important to spend it using energy to hide yourself behind a mask. There are those who will accept the real you and they are worth knowing.
In this season before Christmas there is something that changes. Whether people are Christian/Jewish or celebrate something else there is a change at this time of year. People seem more kind and caring. They are more willing to make donations and volunteer to help others. There is something about the season that, like snow, floats down over our parts of the world. It is as if a profound sense of generosity is awakened. This time of the year is different and I think Dr. Seuss, in the Grinch, was right. It is “something more.”
May we keep this caring and outpouring of help into the new year.
Some people delight in complaining. They want to tell you what is wrong. They don’t want to fix it they just want to complain. Some of them are negative all the time but some are not. If you are part of a group plan there is always someone who wants to tell you why it won’t work. I hate to say it but probably the worst are church members. I think that part of the reason is that everyone who belongs think they own the whole thing. If there is one typo in the bulletin they have to point it out. Especially in some place where everyone can hear.
The hardest part about belonging to a church is that it is as imperfect as we are. I think that’s what turns some people off. The expectation is that everyone in the church will behave in a Christian way. Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
Church may not necessarily be important to your spiritual growth but a community of people is. If you can find a church that feels like home that is wonderful. If you can’t then at least seek our some like-minded souls who will support you on your path.
It is very difficult to grow in your chosen faith alone. We all need people who share their stories, their struggles and their journey. Connecting with others gives us insights that we would not find on our own. That is the same kind of support that some of us find blogging. We can gain support that way if we truly exchange our formation stories and our successes and failures. However, where faith is concerned, I think some sort of physical connection helps. Not everyone benefits from a place where we experience physical touch but as humans it changes us.
Don’t ever stop seeking the place that you can grown and thrive!
As I read the blogs in my reader and explore the writings of those who read my blog I am struck by the wideness of differences in our lives. Yet, we are alike. Something written has caused us to connect in some way.
The view of lives in far away places and close to home expands my understanding. I see the simple, everyday moments people experience and I feel a kinship with their thoughts. The writing is a window into other lives. We are more alike than we are different. Most of the joys and sorrows are the same. Most of us encounter love and hate. Most of us have seen grief in some way. Most of us long for a better, more loving world.
Surely this glimpse into another life, another world, will draw us closer together. Understanding blocks hatred. The desire to reach out and draw closer will surely open the path to deeper relationships where hatred has no home. We can give love the chance to grow and encompass those around us.
On my route to town I pass a colony of homeless people who have set up a camp underneath an overpass. There are tents there and open areas to congregate. There are trees and a forest-like setting. Basically they have formed a community. They have been there for a good while and are law abiding. The police don’t bother them and have actually helped at times. A porta-potty company has put and potty there which they empty at their own expense. An Episcopal priest has formed a church for them and most attend.
This is a thriving community. Most of them don’t work except for odd jobs. They don’t pander on the streets or beg. Some of the churches in the area offer meals. On the whole they do ok.
Often I have heard people ask why these homeless don’t seek more that the community has to offer? Why they want to stay where they are? For the first time today I had an aha moment. They have found a place where they are understood and feel welcome. They are a bonded community. They help each other and form friendship. They are accepted.
I finally got it. I understand. They have found their safe place. It may seem a poor choice to us but to them it is a home. No wonder they don’t want to leave.
The only people who change, who are transformed, are people who feel safe, who feel their dignity, and who feel loved. When you feel loved, when you feel safe, and when you know your dignity, you just keep growing! That’s what we do for one another as loving people—offer safe relationships in which we can change. This kind of love is far from sentimental; it has real power. In general, we need a judicious combination of safety and necessary conflict to keep moving forward in life. Richard Rohr
This is an amazing statement. It is important that we feel safe. That safety has nothing to do with being safe from accidents, guns etc. It has to do with having a safe ground beneath our feet. A tree is able to grow to great heights if its roots are deeply set in the ground. The same is true of us. We can endure the winds of life buffeting our branches if we have that grounding. We can survive and be strengthened by the challenges in our lives. We can grow tall and strong.
This follows Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Safety and security are the base of his pyramid. For him it has to do with food, safe home, basic needs fulfilled. Rohr recognizes that there is more. We all need someone in our lives to acknowledge our existence and to show us that we matter.
Change is inevitable. We need to know where our roots are held fast and then we can move with the change. We may find that grounding in God, in a person, or in a community. Where is not important. Find your ground.