How to #PassLove when someone is suffering
I have several friends and acquaintances dealing with sorrow right now, specifically the sorrow that comes from an extreme medical condition, death of loved ones, and aged dying relatives.
All of them mentally understand the WHY of suffering. They have strong relationships with God and know, although they have difficulty coping, that everything in life happens for a reason and is a growth experience.
What they don’t understand, however, is the emotional HOW COME aspect of suffering. This results in anguish, anger, mental over-drive, confusion, denial, moments of extreme strength and moments of utter despair. It is hard to deal with.
I have been witness and counsel to many conversations about the how come of suffering and what we, as people connected to those suffering are to do about it.
Yes, we know we are supposed to be loving.
But what does that mean? How do we do it?
When someone is suffering and either personally dealing with an illness or personally coping as a loved one enters into hospice care, we as friends, family, co-workers, teachers, counselors, random passerbys–we all have an important job to do. LOVE.
We cannot explain suffering with words. We cannot heal wounds with words. We cannot find the exact “right thing” to ease the suffering.
But we can love. We can hold hands with a crying stranger, we can hug someone truly, we can listen to them patiently, we can support them with our own ability to be love. It all starts with being there and being present and trusting your instincts.
Don’t run away from people suffering. Don’t try to avoid them or the issue. Simply show up.
When you are with them, fully be with them. Silence your phone. Make eye contact. Breathe extra hard to help the other person tether back to reality. If you feel the other person going away to a path of sorrow, we can help by bringing them back to the here and now–by being in the here and now ourselves. Breathe deeply, really look at the person, take in your surroundings. Be here now.
Trust your instincts
When you are present with the other person, you need to be the one who takes the leap. If you think a person needs a hug? Give them a hug. (If it’s someone you don’t know well, you may want to ask first “is it okay if I give you a hug?”) If it feels like you need to ask a question, to take someone for a walk, to bring them a glass of water, to do something for them–trust yourself. When you are vulnerable and listening to your gut, you are helping the other person open up and accept things. Note: this isn’t easy. It could mean you end up being the one to cry, allowing the other person to feel okay to cry. It may mean you ask tough questions or have to feel uncomfortable. Suffering is uncomfortable. Growth is uncomfortable. Healing is uncomfortable. Yes, sometimes, LOVE is uncomfortable.
Love is not always a fairy-tale story. Real love comes with ups and downs. With sorrow and joy. Hard times and good. The important thing is to keep on loving, keep on caring, keep on showing up, listening, and doing the right thing. And praying always helps too. 🙂
How do you help to #PassLove when someone struggles with the anguish associated with suffering?