“How are you?” The need for this statement has considerably increased in this pandemic. We often use it as a mere obligation. These are indeed trying times. Some have lost a loved one, some are separated from their folks, forced to live in different cities for work. Lonely and depressed from all the negative news that is portrayed on social media because that’s the new news hour.
The importance of a genuine “ how are you holding up? ” might be sufficient to cause a flood of tears and help you process pain, anger, months of loneliness and more. If only used right. So how to be there for someone? How to support a friend, a loved one or even a stranger from social media who you have never met but relate to their pain and suffering.
Start with a small talk.
Yes it sounds cliche, awkward and embarrassing at times. But remember that no person will open up immediately to you even if it’s your spouse. To get someone talking you first need to make them feel comfortable.
Be the first one to open up.
You might get responses in monosyllables. Hmmm, aha, ya, ok. But rest assured you’re on the right track as per basics of communication. Use these conversation starters:
- I had a tough time because……
- Kids have been particularly troublesome……..
- Work is so demanding…….
- I lost…… to covid
- I am feeling too lost and lonely……
These might sound like too negative but it helps people be empathetic and hence open up to you. It’s human psychology. We can relate better to people who are sailing in the same boat as ours. Having problems like us.
Under the pretext of small talk, avoid speaking about things that might act as triggers for the other person. For eg. starting by saying “i just got back from my trip to maldives” or i just landed a new job as a manager of a startup will only be met with silent treatment. These achievements, news are worth sharing but not when you know someone is having a tough time and needs your help. You have to make the other person feel comfortable to talk to you and not get intimidated by you.
Acknowledge their struggles
Once your friend/loved one opens up about their problems, acknowledge their struggles. The fact that life has been unfair, and they did have it hard. Brushing it away under the pretext of spreading positivity or helping them overcome the pain of their suffering by the time they finish this call or chat with you isn’t going to happen. You cannot rush into these things.
Just to show your support or to make attempts at getting over their loss we try to fast forward things our way. Saying statements like,
- We should be grateful for whatever we have.
- At least your spouse is with you to support you (when they have lost a parent)
- It gets better with time.
- Time is the best healer.
Gratitude lists have been quite a buzzword on social media recently. It’s just a fancy term for counting your blessings. This is good on a normal day but when you are struggling with the loss of a loved one Gratitude will only make it worse.
The first step in processing grief is acknowledging the loss. Time and again you will be hit with a flood of memories about the person. Their belongings, memories, through people who come to meet you, you will be relieving the same pain again and again.
Don’t try to avoid these memories or feelings. They are absolutely normal and a part of the grieving process. Going numb so you don’t feel anything will only pile up your emotions and prolong the process of grieving.
With time, the memories will reduce. You will get on with life.
Help them cope with the loss
Help can be provided in a number of ways. Monetary help, physical help, emotional support.If you see your friend lose an earning member of their family. if you are in a position then help them get a job, or provide financial help.
The initial days after a loss can be tough. Turn up at their house, help them with their laundry, cook a meal or better bring hot meals for a few days, help them clean up. There are tons of ways to help someone.
All you need is to calibrate your words. Understand to what capacity you are willing to help the person, go that extra mile to male a difference in someone’s life.
Whatever you do, acknowledge their struggles, that’s the least you can do!
This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter campaign which is a year-long initiative which aims at making a difference with our writing better known as Blogging with a purpose.
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