Lean on me

Karen Cleveland
I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to put February behind me. In general (and Toronto, in particular), it seems like the past few weeks have been fraught with tragedy; a steady stream of bad news.

And, sigh, the sad fact is that the bad stuff in life comes along with the awesome stuff.

If someone close to you has had a rough go (and not just a shitty day, but truly bitch-slapped by life: death or sickness close to them, laid off, broken up with, a miscarriage…the heavy stuff), give good friend.

Be respectful but present. Don’t address their heartache publicly, but offer a private acknowledgement (a card or flowers sent to their home or a thoughtful email) that they can take in, in their own time. The offer of distraction can be welcomed too, perhaps in the form of a movie, wine and takeout, with the topic of their sadness strictly verboten, unless of course they want to talk about it.

If you happen upon the wounded in person, keep a strong front and take your cues from them. If you enter a room, and give the archetypal “I’m soooooo sorry, are you ok?” with your head tilted (you know, that head tilt), it might trigger tears. They might be looking to you for strength, so try your best to give it to them.

If they want to cry, let them cry. If they say they need space to lick their wounds, give them space. There’s comfort in knowing that people are thinking of you, so try and convey that however feels more appropriate. “I’m thinking of you” goes a long way.

No Comments

  1. Anonymous
    February 19, 2010

    Great piece Karen.

    Tragic that the shortest month of the year is also the shittiest, but seems to be the theme this year for a lot of us. But on the bright side March is just around the corner, filled with all kinds of new opportunities to punch February right in it’s fat, stupid face.

  2. Anonymous
    February 19, 2010

    The “head tilt” triggering tears is spot on! I’ve had a very difficult couple of weeks and the broken heart to prove it. I think most of the time people dealing with tragedy don’t know what they want or need in terms of support until someone offers it. The worst feeling as a result of a personal tragedy is being or feeling like you’re alone. I couldn’t agree more that “thinking of you” is a simple tactic, resulting in much needed comfort. A wise friend told me recently that I should remember that I have been through worse, and therefore, I will survive this heart ache. Hasta La Vista February indeed!

Post Comment