I'm just chugging along and joining all the links ups I've been telling myself I should join and then never got around to it. Today I'm doing a double Fulwiler. I'm pretty sure that's what it's called in the biz. I'm doing 7 posts in 7 days AND since it's Friday I'm also doing:
|Also hosted by Jen Fulwiler|
In order for this to make sense you need to know that my friend Sarah is a complete weirdo, otherwise known as an Extrovert. She took an MBTI personality quiz just so I could be 100% accurate on my blog because that's what good friends do, waste time on the internet for someone else's blog. Anyway, for reference, Sarah is an ESFJ and I am an INFP which means we are completely opposite except that we both favor Feeling over Thinking. All that to say, we are so so different from each other that our running joke is to call each other "Weirdo" and ask "How are we friends?", but we are dear dear friends. Anyhoo, Sarah told me today that she experiences "How are you?" and "I can't imagine" totally differently than what I described, and Sarah has faced some true hardship in her life. So, to make things really confusing, here are the things you SHOULD say or do for someone facing a health crisis:
1. Say "I can't imagine."
Confusing right? I know. I'm going to quote Sarah now (with her permission):
I know I say that one but I don't feel like I say it in a way that is looking to be comforted. I say it in a "I have never gone through what you have been through so I can't say that I understand so I am not going to pretend I do."...I feel like it is annoying when someone acts like they understand your situation when they really don't.I get what Sarah is saying here. I don't think anyone who says this is purposefully trying to make the patient or caregiver they are talking to comfort them. I know they are trying the exact opposite, and I stand corrected, because for some it really is a sentiment they appreciate hearing. Sarah went on to say that when people expressed this sentiment to her it made her feel like she wasn't carrying her difficulties alone. I guess a good policy is to reflect on what you know about the person who's facing the health crisis. If you don't know them, my instinct is to just stick with "I'm sorry you're going through this".
2. Ask "How are you?"
See above. I really don't know exactly what to think of this. It is so foreign to my personal instincts, but I do know Sarah and I know that if she were going through something difficult this would truly be an important way to love and support her. If Sarah is this way, I'm sure there are many others like her who read my advice yesterday and were like "What the heck?".
I think that after reflecting on reasons you should or should not say "I can't imagine." and "How are you?" the conclusion I've come to is this: if you know this person well, do what you think best fits their personality and what you know about them and that you aren't saying one of these things because it's what you would want or because it's what you want in that moment. If your goal is to love that person, even if your foot ends up in your mouth, you are still doing the right thing. So now, on to the rest of the list of things you should do:
I know that, even if you are a believer, there are times when praying doesn't seem like enough. There are times that "I'm praying for you." sounds trite and like something that people just say. Please, please, please, if you do nothing else, pray for their healing, pray for guidance, pray for their peace of mind, pray for comfort. Please pray. I cannot overstate the power of your prayers. I cannot overstate the tangible support and relief your prayers offer that no other gesture or statement can even touch. If you are not a believer, when you tell someone you are thinking of them, that you are sending love and light or good vibes, or a myriad of other similar sentiments, please do not doubt the efficacy of these offerings. Not only do these prayers and similar offerings lift up the recipient at that moment with their love, they truly have lasting effects. There is no real way for me to convey it except to say that up until my cancer diagnosis my belief in the power of prayer was largely on blind faith, but now, having walked through that valley, "I was blind but now I see". "The power of prayer" is not a catchy phrase, it is the most egregious understatement of all time. In fact, prayers and well wishes and good intentions are the reason that "you can't imagine", because when you try to imagine it you are not factoring in the effects of the very real prayers and grace you will benefit from when you are in the thick of it. It is beyond human understanding. So please, if you do absolutely nothing else, pray pray pray and rest assured you have contributed the single most important thing you have.
4. Reach Out
If you hear that someone you know is facing a crisis, even if you haven't spoken to them in a very long time, even if you only know each other through friends of friends, even if you've never actually met them in real life--if you feel moved to reach out to them to offer encouragement, just do it. Don't worry that it will be weird, or awkward, or intruding. I know that after all I've said about being private and introverted and concerned about burdening people this sounds counter-intuitive, but so many people reached out to me in big and little ways after many years and over many miles and every single time it was so uplifting. Send a card, a note, a Facebook message, an email, a tweet, whatever. Don't feel weird. I felt so loved and supported and I was delighted every time someone reached out to me to say "I'm thinking of you, I'm praying for you, I'm here for you.".
|Let's get practical, practical...|
|I'm not very adept with PicMonkey yet. PS, this is not really my house but all Moms know how fast this could happen.|