Sometimes listening to someone’s pain and disappointment is like entering a narrow path. Regardless of our age, station in life, locality or education, we grieve. And we meet others daily who are trying to put a loss to rest. It is always a challenge to stay in their space to help them further the topic or issue they bring to light in your presence. It would be much easier to say, “Count your blessings for what you’ve had” or “There will be something good come out of this new direction for you.” That may be true and maybe the person won’t have to wait long to see it. However, that doesn’t replace what is gone. Should it rescue the person from his or her pain, it could cause another degree of grief from leaving it unatteneded. Though thought to be helpful, it may not prove to be over time.
Recently I had opportunity to respond to a friend’s email where she was lamenting she wouldn’t be able to travel. It’s not an easy task to enter into someone’s disappointment and emotional pain, but it’s totally necessary. How much easier it would be to say, “Oh come now, think of all the good times you’ve had. That’ll be enough to keep you going for a while.” That might be easier, but it would give the impression of unwillingness to share her space. When you’ve been such a traveller, making plans from your own decisions, it’s not a laughing matter to have to say ‘I’m done’. It’s one thing to decide not to do something yourself, but when somebody else says ‘you can’t do it’, it’s quite different. One not only grieves the loss of opportunity, but also the chance to make a decision.
Think about times where you’ve shared a loss and someone has taken you off on a grand tour of thoughts that didn’t reflect your experience in any way. What would you have liked them to say? Jotting some thoughts down today will prepare you to look for a particular response the next time you risk sharing some pain with someone.
I hope you find peace as you travel life’s road.