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What to say when you don’t know what to say…

In the face of pain, heartbreak, and crisis, most of us don’t know how to react or respond. We want to be an encouragement, we want to comfort, we want to relate in some way…

Words often seem so empty and useless in the wake of tragedy.
 
Most of us have comfortable responses we share when we don’t know just what to say: 
“It’s going to be ok”
“You’re strong”
“You’re going to get through this”
“I’m praying for you”
“God is in control”
 
All of these are true, yes! But is it what you’re truly thinking? Sometimes the truth isn’t always comforting, and sometimes honesty is exactly what someone needs to be met with when they are feeling vulnerable. 
 
Maybe you’re speechless, and aren’t sure you have the right words for such an enormous moment. What if you said that?
 
Maybe you’re angry that this is happening to someone you care about so deeply. What if you expressed that emotion?
 
Sometimes it’s a comfort to hear that others are experiencing a range of emotions when you’re trying to process your own. When a friend steps into a crisis situation, they may feel numb at first. When you express your emotions for what they are going through, it can help them begin the healing journey.
 
Most of us feel helpless when people we care about are in trouble, because in truth, we would rather solve the problems than stand by and watch them struggle.
 
I wish after all these years I were confident that I have the right words to comfort and encourage. I don’t always know what to say or how to feel, but drawing from honest feelings and thoughts is better than a canned response, even if I’m certain the words I have to offer are imperfect and insufficient.
 
More important than searching for the perfect words to say when you’re caught off guard is to be around afterward. Check in, mail a note, be available, show up. More than what you say, it’s what you do that makes all the difference.

 

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Don’t Come Crying to Me: How can Pain make us Better Friends?

Sometimes those of us who have had very serious struggles can have some hang ups when it’s time to show compassion to our friends. Not all of us, and not always, but there are those times when our friends or family are facing difficulties and we end up doing or saying the very things we complain about people doing/saying to us when we are in need of support.

Why don’t we know better? Spoonies may even be the worst at this. Has anyone ever said, “I shouldn’t be complaining to you about my little ______.” I have come to believe that this is a problem. If anyone should be hearing out someone’s difficult day of not feeling well or emotionally struggling, don’t you think it should be someone who can empathize with feeling crummy? Yes, even if it’s a cold!

We who have gone through our daily battles, we who have lived in survival mode on and off for so long, and then when a loved one falls into his/her own valley: shouldn’t we be the best people for the job of lending an ear? But in stead, we listen to that little voice that says, “Are they kidding me with this?” Or, we try to give them our sage advice to protect them from what is coming. We may know some of what they are facing, but we aren’t them. They have a unique struggle, isolated from ours. Their pain, however similar or maybe seemingly less than ours, is relative to their own experiences in life. A struggle or illness that is tearing someone’s world apart, however lower on the pain scale we believe it is- still is shattering his/her life into pieces in ways we may never understand, and in ways we may never face. (see Proportional Pain and My Guilty Genes)

After surviving so many challenges, we often view others’ battles through the lenses of our own lives. Sometimes we go further than relating and into the realm of “been there lived that, bought a T-shirt.” Remember how, “I COMPLETELY understand” feels when someone says it to you on a bad day? It can feel even more isolating.

But we often do understand so many challenges because we have walked such a painful road of our own. We want to make sure our friends know they are not alone. We can be close by emotionally, available, and most of all: COMPASSIONATE. We don’t need to remind them how much pain we also have felt, or how many times we have been in their shoes. We don’t need to compare horror stories or solve their problems every time they have an issue we believe we can solve. Compassion is the language that tells your loved one that they are not walking their harsh road alone.

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I have to confess that this was written in response to a few of my own very dear loved ones recently facing some challenges. I fear I am guilty of failing them in all of the above ways in attempts to “help” when I should be the one person who knows how to handle their pain and grief, shouldn’t I? However, they have been teaching, growing experiences that I am thankful for. In the beginning years of my illness, I used to get secretly annoyed with people for even talking about their allergies in my presence. But now, I want to be the person people come to for comfort. I pray I can continue learning to be a humble, caring, compassionate friend for those I love so much.

“If pain doesn’t lead to humility, you have wasted your suffering.”

-Katerina S. Klemer

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Passengers Conceptual Photograph by Elle Moss | Grant me Compassion in my Friendships

Passengers by Elle Moss

Thank you to Elle Moss Conceptual Fine Art Photography

Please go purchase one of her lovely original prints for your home or gifts. She has so many whimsical, seasonal and Autumn images to choose from.

Love Yourself Hard

Get ready to be inspired. (Grab a tissue). Had to re-blog this:

Susan Cottrell & FreedHearts

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My darling friend (codename Salarcon) is consistently more joyful than many of us put together. She has her struggles, as do all of us, but she has an incredible peace in the midst of those struggles, as do few of us.

She is also a Poetry Slam Goddess and host of a new YouTube poetry program, and her recent poem (below) is about joy — whatever the circumstances.

Life is short, my friends. Whether you are concerned about your orientation or you child’s, or falsely afraid that God does not love you or approve of you, or afraid you somehow do not deserve to be at the table with everyone else, please. You don’t have to do that to yourself.

It’s time to love yourself… hard.

Enjoy Salarcon’s poem… ❤

 “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day

Whether it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of…”

May 3rd

Amanda dances…

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In Her Shoes: poem

Stiletto Memory" Sketch by Mary Mattio #abodyofhope | "In Her Shoes" #Poem for #InvisibleIllness #IIAW14

Stiletto Memory

~In Her Shoes~

She asked me in a nice voice if I would wear her shoes.

It wasn’t the best choice, but how could I refuse?

~

The moment they slipped on, I swear I heard a crack.

Then something within me sharply turned to black.

~

The shoes no longer held me up as I fell to my knees.

I could not bear the weight of my dear friend’s disease.

~

She got down on the floor with me and held me for a while.

She put the shoes back on her feet and then she forced a smile.

~

I don’t know how she wears those shoes!

She must have so much strength.

I’ll never understand; I wish I could help her bear the weight.

aBodyofHope

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This was written in honor of all of the women who live with invisible illnesses and invisible pain. May they have friends who try to understand what they face.

Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2014

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Poem featured on The #Spoonie Daily E-Magazine

and InvisibleIllnessweek.com

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