This is a guest post from Dr. Laurel Brightman, a writer and teacher, and a secular and clinically trained pastor. in History of Science and Anthropology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Director of Writing and Storytelling in the Medical Humanities and Arts Program at Stanford University School of Medicine, where she helps clinical students, staff, and physicians do more for themselves. We help you communicate more clearly and vulnerable to benefit and that of its patients. Laurel is also the founder of Writing His Medicine, a global community of writing healthcare professionals.
her last book Animal Madness: Inside Their Minds was new york times It became a bestseller and was translated into seven languages.her work The New York Times, The Guardian, Wired, California Sundayand national geographic So do Radiolab, National Public Radio, and many other media outlets. She splits her time between rural Alaska and her family’s commercial citrus and avocado ranch in Southern California.
Life is not an endless buffet of dishes made up of both disappointments and delights. For better or worse, there have been many events that have given other people the opportunity to come see me (or not). Whether it’s the death of a close family member, a bad diagnosis, a natural disaster, a divorce, or the death of a pet, a separation, a job loss, or a project that turns out worse than you thought, sometimes it hurts just as much. sometimes. Along the way, I’ve learned a little bit about what feels good and what feels bad in the wake of crises, big and small. Here are 10 recommendations on how to show up to someone who is going through something terrible.
1. The best way to show up for someone is to just show up. Don’t overthink what you’re going to do or say. Or don’t let go of the terrifyingly well-meaning “Let me know if there’s anything I can do” (this will only burden them). just do something. everything. A postcard saying “I’m sorry” is fine. Far more people than you might think freeze into action during difficult times for fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. When in doubt, admit that you’re confused. “I heard about XYZ. I don’t know what to say or how I can help. Please know I’m thinking of you.
2. Make it easy for the recipient of your act of kindness to receive it. Avoid letting someone else do the work for you. For example: go inside and drop things off without requiring someone to host you (unless they specifically ask for a visit). Provide help without having to share your schedule or hide your keys (unless provided). Instead, leave something on your doorstep that doesn’t spoil quickly (or put it in the cooler if it does), email something or email your thoughts. bold don’t expect a reply. When texting or calling, let them know that you are not asking for updates or expecting a call or text back. You should also be clear that you should not write a thank you note for anything you send. Pretend you were thanked.
3. food is love Try to bring/send food that can be frozen and eaten later to reduce the chance of it going to waste. a spoonful of comfort, but there are a million options. Gift cards for grocery stores and food delivery are also great. However, if this requires the use of an app, make sure the recipient or the person you are spending time with has the app installed on their phone and knows how to use it.
Four. Distract them… to something fruitful. A little dodging during a crisis is hugely underrated. Refusing to focus on what’s happening 24/7 doesn’t mean someone is in denial. Television is a great way to do this, but the endless buffet of streaming services can be overwhelming. Try giving someone a list of things that make them feel good (we know that podcasts and books are often too much to focus on).series Ted Russo A good example of a crowd pleaser, but the options are endless and should be tailored to whoever is writing the list. indian matchmaker With Netflix, it was perfect.my friend swears paddington movieBut whoever gets your list may find solace in action movies, competitive cooking shows, or the real estate and reality genre. Try to concentrate. If she doesn’t have Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, or What-have-you, offer to buy one for her.
5. Gift a meditation app subscription. Personally, over the years calm down app. Even when meditating was overkill, it was great to listen to music or nature sounds or sleep stories.Giving someone his 30 day subscription or his 1 year subscription I can.Other options are relaxing meditation, better sleepand head spaceAs with anything else that requires tech savvy, make sure you know how to install and use it.
6. Thoughts are better than prayers. Don’t offer yours unless you know someone specifically wants you to pray. I love that you pray for me, but I may be in the minority. You are in my thoughts.”
7. Avoid silver lining. These are sentences that start with “at least…” or “luckily…”. The only thing worse than bad things happening to you is forcing people to look on the positive side before you’re ready. Better options include “This is so hard”. “If you don’t mind, tell me how you’re feeling.”
8. Staff. I know it’s very American to propose capitalist solutions to emotional pain, but here I am. do What I like, lol. The following has brought joy to me and the people I love when feeling overwhelmed.
- Nodpod weighted eye mask: Sleep can be elusive when you’re worried that the life you know is over. , the weight is magical. It’s like a lullaby for your face.
- kneipp bath oil: Change your bath water to green, blue or purple and submerge yourself in a cloud of unobtrusive, herby scents that will stop your screaming inner voice for a moment. These oils aren’t cheap, but they aren’t very expensive either.I like his pack of samplers that you can customize to your mood. My favorite scents are Beauty Secret, Lavender and Goodbye Stress.
- bird feeder. Works great in gardens/balconies/windows (and visible from your favorite spot in the house) really any kind. Wildbirds Unlimited There are good options and they will tell you what foods are best for your particular area, but don’t overthink it.They are very funny (see this unicorn feeder if you doubt me). Feeder is a streaming service of nature, offering endless hours of programming, letting you know you’re part of something bigger and that what you’re going through, even if it feels silly. It reminds us that we are part of the cycle of life.
9. Invite someone for a walk. A friend or acquaintance who is going through hard times may not have the stamina to go out to restaurants or attend small gatherings. It takes far too much energy to describe what is going on in life…and crises have a way of infuriating people into the chit-chat often required at such events. A walk is easier. You don’t have to speak if you don’t want to. This will lighten up your social time and also give someone a little fresh air.
Ten. leave it for last. Whether it’s death, divorce, separation, job loss, missing pet, life-changing diagnosis, home destruction, or anything else, the person you show up with really appreciates you showing up again. I will. A year or many years (!) from the fact. The field can get crowded after a loss, but with each passing day it seems the world doesn’t remember what happened. But that doesn’t mean the loss isn’t as serious for the person or people who have suffered. Or on any holiday. Share memories of people, places, and creatures without being heard. Remind them that what was important to them is also important to you. It always is.
Showing up for someone is the best medicine for you. I am either a dog that needs work or a dog that tends to bite off its tail. And my favorite job is to make someone feel a little less lonely. Maybe you fix bikes, you’re good at returning phone calls, or you’re thrifty on things your friends like. I’m not always good at showing up for other people. Like most acts of service, it comes from a selfish place (I want to feel good and free myself from loneliness). We all need meaning in our times. Be helpful in times of crisis (frozen lasagna, handwritten notes, providing rides and childcare, taking a heartbroken friend for a walk to feed the pigeons, screaming at the sky, etc.) ) is something we should all aspire to. to—A type of gift that is given both ways.
Laurel Braitman is What Looks Like Courage: An Epic Journey Through Loss in LoveHer website is LaurelBraitman.com.
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