WORDS AND SILENCE BOTH GIVE COMFORT

It’s so easy to console a toddler. My son when he was barely 2 years old. He used to come running to me with all his problems. And it was so easy to comfort and console him. A small kiss used to make the pain go away. A small promise used to make all troubles vanish. He truly believed that I had solution for all the problems in life. I wish life was that simple.

In adult life we can’t wish away setbacks and problems and losses. Sometimes the loss is so huge that it feels like life has just stopped. Business going bust or death of a loved one or heartbreak the list is endless. It  feels like the carpet has been pulled away from below your feet. And we will never find our footing again.

If a friend is going through such a situation how will you help?

First and foremost words of courage, comfort and love do help. But generally what happens is where the loss is too recent or when you are actually going through the problem these words feel superficial. But somewhere deep in the heart they do register. And give inner strength to people. I will give you an example. A friend of mine was struggling with a heartbreak. She had just found out that her spouse was cheating on her. And while speaking to her I said the usual phrases “don’t worry everything would be all right”, “whatever happens, happens for good”, “God is there” and she lashed back at me and said “you don’t even know what I am going through, my world has fallen apart, how can you be so sure that things will be ok? You don’t understand me”. At that time I had put up with her bad mood but I knew her anger was not directed at me. Her anger was because of the situation she was in and it was a kind of defense mechanism that was making her strong from inside. And months later she confessed that she was angry and hurting from inside and my words were comforting her even though she was not ready to admit it then.

This brings me to the second point. Give an opportunity to the affected person to vent out his feelings. Be there for him. Just sit and listen. Like if a friend with an active life style, is suffering from some illness and is confined to bed. He is bound to be grumpy and angry. Listen to his issues. Let him whine for sometime. A patient ear is what he wants. He already know all the logic and realities. A little pampering is what he expects. Let him play the victim card for sometime and then gently bring him back to reality.

Another way in which you can help is by giving the person time to grieve. Like if there is a death in the household. Help in the day to day chores of the house. Give the family time to grieve and compose themselves. These days the neighbors are closer than relatives. So things like providing food or offering to take care of small kids or helping out in getting the bank formalities done go a long way in helping the bereaved. And these gestures are remembered for a long time by them.

HOPE – THE ANCHOR OF LIFE

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Plenty of emotions

flooding the thoughts

hard to let go the feelings

As I cannot see the weakness

the pain that is unexplainable

the suffering that is unavoidable.

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Pain is an integral part of any disease. Pain can be suffered but the pain given to the heart is always unbearable.

Nowadays there is a growing number of cases of cancer around the world. Yet people are strong enough to survive in some cases. Medicines are just a booster to your confidence, the main cure is only through love and care.

Nothing can beat the love and care given to the patient in curing an illness. The caregiver who is the closest to the patient must always ensure to give the best comfort they can at any point of time. Trusting and gaining confidence in life lets even the worst conditions become better.

I remember a boy from my school days, with whom I had not acquainted much. Years later even when I moved from one school to another, I had being in touch with many of my old friends. Unanticipated I remembered this kid in a conversation with my friend. She conveyed that he was suffering from cancer. It was a shock to me, as for me he was the brightest kid I had ever met. I was quite disturbed, yet a prayer evokes from my heart for him. Years passed, whenever I hear about someone suffering from cancer, this kid from my school comes into my mind. A very pale young kid who was very studious. Later I came to know he did not survive, but yes he did his exams excellently and passed with a good percentage. For a moment I felt so proud of him, as he did work hard even when he was in pain.

The struggles he had gone through, I could picture it, but never knew the pain. It was his mere confidence that took him ahead in life until is dreams were achieved.

One has to be hopeful in life to overcome all the obstacles in it. Hope is the only elixir of life. To bring in hope to a traumatized person is rather a difficult objective, yet not impossible.

“He is suffering because he did it”

“He is suffering because he is punished for his wrongdoing”

“Oh poor, she has cancer, she should have been careful”

All the illnesses are uninvited guests, we do not bring into us just because we enjoy suffering. It is something I wish to tell anyone who would love to quote the above sentences. Life is quite unpredictable. Hence who gets what is not in our hands. It is our duty as mere people to be with the patient, help them fight it.

The sufferer needs a healthy surrounding with healthy minds around. Only a healthy and sound mind can cure any worst illness. During the chemotherapy, they lose their confidence, their health, and their mental strengths too. Pain clouds their thought process, it is then we need to be around to hold them together. Let them not break down and show that life is not a cake walk.

Encourage them…

Show that there are many who need them…

Give them healthy food to eat…

Keep their mind busy…

Let them know that “Hope is the anchor of life”…

So never lose it…

BE AN EMPATHIZER, NOT AN ADVISER

Advises!

Suggestions!

Taunts!

They irked me so much during my sickness last month. I even warned few of my family members, shouted at them and reprimanded few of my friends lovingly.

People usually showed their sympathy and started giving examples according to their thinking and understanding of the matter or issue. There were very few who could really understand what I was going through at that particular moment of my suffering. ‘Empathy’, what I was needed, not sympathy from the people around me.

In sympathy, emotions are predominant. The sympathizer relates emotionally with the person concerned. But in empathy the intellect and discerning are predominant. The empathizer focuses on understanding the person’s frame of mind, his/her context, how he/she feels and why. Then it becomes easier for him/her to talk, counsel, console and comfort the victim in a better and successful way.

A classic differentiation between sympathy and empathy was displayed by Liza  in her poem: Sympathy and Empathy a Poem have a look at it.

A week ago I elucidated few encouraging messages that I received while I was in the hospital. And I was elated and strengthened by each of one of those messages because each of those messages reflected the sender’s empathetic heart.

An empathizer always puts his/her feet into the victim’s shoe and try to understand how it feels to be in that shoe.

Just imagine about the person who has lost his/her spouse or children. Consoling that person or a bereaved is all the more difficult as the grief level of a bereaved is the highest in comparison to any other sadness or grief. How can we be empathetic in that case if we do not have any such experiences in our own life?

Let me give an example I just remembered. When my cousin died of an accident and I was weeping for him before flying for his funeral my aunt here in Kolkata was trying to comfort me as she was also in pain. She was saying, “I can imagine how it will feel if my son would have died today. The pain of that mother is so great who had lost her son.” That’s a cry of an empathetic heart. And I have seen her comforting me, my wife and few others at different times. She is the best in doing so.

We had a week for a topic called, “Managing Grief” last year in 2016. I wrote an article where I had mentioned about few things that we should remember while consoling or comforting a bereaved. They were: Listening to them patiently, Giving them a hug, Allow them to weep or wail, Cry with them, Talk less with them, Don’t force them for anything and so on.

I quite liked this statement that I stumbled upon in WordPress:

What is the true essence of therapy? What is a key aspect in loving? What is understanding? The answer to these questions is an ability within self that requires learning and growing, this ability is empathy

Recently, I came across the term, “Validation through Empathy“. Psychology Today says, “Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s thoughts, feelings,  sensations, and behaviors as understandable.  We may approve it or not that’s a different matter but we accept and understand the person and his/her feelings.

I have a video which can really make sense and help us all to understand the concept of Validation through Empathy. Let’s watch it.

Whoa! Excellent! Isn’t it?

I have been trying desperately to be a person like that… A person who will not judge other’s frailty but understand and accept his/her actions, emotions and mind. I sensed people feel comfortable with me, sharing their hearts because to some extent I could provide the warmth of that empathy which they desperately need when they are vulnerable. And I will strive more and more to be validating their emotions through empathy.

Dear Friends! Our level of empathy actually determines how good we can be in consoling or comforting those who are going through difficult situations.

Keep reading, keep learning and keep leaving your feedback.

Stay Blessed!