Tag Archives: suffering

When You Don’t Know What To Say To Someone Who Is Suffering

It seems like when someone is suffering in some way, the majority of people have no clue on what to say.  Rather than saying nothing or admitting they don’t know what to say, most people make insensitive, hurtful or even invalidating comments….

  • “You should be glad your grandmother died.. she’s not suffering anymore.”
  • “I know you’re sick.  I had that same problem & it was horrible.  I ended up in the hospital & in more pain than I thought was possible!”
  • “The reason you have this problem is you just don’t have enough faith!”
  • “You should be grateful it’s not worse!  Other people have it much worse than you do!”

Comments like these are invalidating & hurtful.  They also make the person with the problem feel as if they are whining about some petty little problem instead of the crisis they are facing.  These are the last things a person needs to feel but especially at this time!

If someone you know is having a problem, then please, PLEASE seriously think about what you say to that person.  You don’t want to make them feel worse than they already do.  Also, a good idea is to ask God to give you the right words to say.  He will be glad to do so.  Luke 12:12 says, “The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them.” (VOICE)  

Don’t forget too that people are individuals.  Even if you have experienced the exact same problem as your friend, you both will handle it differently because you’re individuals.  Just because your friend feels differently than you did or is handling the situation in a different way than you did doesn’t mean that friend is wrong.

Remember, the situation is about your friend, not you.  Even if you experienced the exact same problem, keep the main focus on your friend, not you or what you did.  It’s fine to share that information if your friend asks, but the main focus should be on your friend.

This brings me to another point.  Don’t offer advice unless asked for it.  A lot of times, people just want to vent or talk about their problem to help them get some clarity.  They aren’t looking for you to solve it.  They’re looking for you to listen & offer empathy.

Don’t go too far with positivity.  Sometimes being too positive comes across as invalidating.  When I survived carbon monoxide poisoning in 2015, I nearly died.  It was tough to come to terms with.  Upon telling one person that I came very close to death, that person said, “But you didn’t die!”  That comment came across as something was wrong with me for being upset instead of only being grateful I survived.  “I’m so glad you didn’t die!” would’ve been a much better response.  That response would have shown the person accepted that the situation was bad & they care about me rather than basically shaming me for being upset as any normal person would’ve been.  Being positive can be a good thing but sometimes it’s also ok to admit something is very wrong, & to respond accordingly.

There are also some situations where you simply have no clue what to say.  When a person loses someone they love, for example, there is nothing in this world you can say to make their pain go away.  Rather than try, simply be honest.  Admit that you don’t know what to say, but you’re there for them if they need anything.  When my father was dying, a couple we’re friends with stopped by our home one day.  Neither had said anything so I wasn’t sure if they knew about my father or not.  I mentioned it along with the abuse I received from the flying monkeys at the time during our conversation.  They said, “We saw you mentioned it on Facebook, but honestly, we had no clue what to say.  We’re sorry all this is happening.”  That may have been the best thing anyone said to me at that time.  They were honest, non-judgmental & not critical at all, which was just what I needed.

Lastly, don’t forget to offer to pray with & for your friend.  I’ve noticed even people who don’t share my faith appreciate the offer a great deal.  Prayer seems to offer comfort to most people, no matter their religious beliefs.  However, if the person in question is angry with God or adamant in believing He doesn’t exist, this is not a good thing to say.  Nothing says you can’t pray for that person when not in their presence though…

Dear Reader, please keep these things in mind when someone you know is suffering.  These simple tips will help your friend & maybe even strengthen your relationship.

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health

Good Can Come From Bad Times

Haggai 2:6-9  ““This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8 ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” (NIV)

 

God showed me this Scripture in 2008.  My marriage was in a bad place, & I was seriously considering divorce.  As soon as I read the above Scripture, I realized what was happening.  I felt shaken to my core as it was a terrible time.  Yet, as time went on, my marriage improved drastically.  It became so much better than it had been prior to the “shaking”.

 

Recently, another “shaking” happened.  After a big argument with my parents in May, my mother has refused to speak to me, & my father barely speaks to me.  This extremely limited contact has given me a new peace & joy.  I’ve finally felt free enough to be completely myself for the first time in my life.

 

Dear Reader, if your life is being shaken up, good can come from it!  God is not into waste.  Bad situations have a reason for happening, even if you don’t know what that reason is at the time.  God can & will make good come from even the worst situation.  It may not feel possible but it’s very true, I can promise you that.  I am still amazed at the good that came from some of the worst moments in my life.  God loves His children though, & wants to bless them in every way possible, especially in the hard times when blessings are needed.

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

Some Thoughts On Suicide

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

 

A little while ago, I read about Brittany Maynard, the termanilly ill young woman who chose assisted suicide.  Something popped into my mind..

 

It is amazing that people are calling her brave & strong & other such positive things, yet if someone who lives with depression, PTSD/C-PTSD or another mental illness commits suicide, they are labeled such terrible things as selfish or cowardly.  I don’t understand what the difference is.

 

First off, I just want to say that I am not passing any judgement on Ms. Maynard.  Honestly, I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same in her situation.  No one knows what they would do unless in the situation.  What I am saying is what makes people call her brave for opting to end her life rather than face the pain & suffering of a horrible disease, yet label someone who is depressed enough to want to end their suffering through suicide is a selfish coward?  Neither person wants to suffer any longer.  Both are tired of the pain.

 

It just breaks my heart, the lack of empathy & compassion in the world.  They also seem to be very selective on the rare occasion they do show up.  In fact, there is a line in the movie, “John Q” that comes to my mind often.  If you don’t know the movie, it is a great one!  Denzel Washington plays the father of a young boy in need of a heart transplant.  He & his wife don’t have proper insurance to cover the procedure, & he holds several people hostage in the hospital out of desperation.  The police are called in to try to talk him into releasing the hostages safely.  The negotiator, played by Robert Duvall, tells him, “Do you think these people (the crowd & tv crews) really care?  You’re just the cause of the moment!”  That statement is so true!  People are so fickle!  They may support a cause passionately, but as soon as something else comes up, the first cause will be abandoned.

 

Anyway, back to the original topic.  Choosing to end one’s life isn’t selfish or cowardly.  it simply means someone is tired of pain & wants to avoid further suffering.  It also doesn’t mean that person is weak.  Any person can only handle so much suffering before wanting an end to it.  I  urge you  to have compassion on those who are considering suicide rather than pass judgement.  If you know someone is suicidal, talk to her! Show her gentleness, love  & understanding.  Maybe all she needs to know is that someone cares.  Maybe showing her that you care will help her to choose not to take her  life.

 

If it’s you that is contemplating suicide, please know I understand what you are going through!  I’m so sorry that you are in such a terrible place!  Please reach out to someone for help- a non-judgmental friend or relative , your pastor, a counselor or even the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.   Most of all, reach out to God!  Tell Him how you feel, & allow Him to help you.  The world would not be the same place without you!  You are a special, unique person & the world needs you!  Please think very carefully & reach out for help before doing anything rash!  xoxo

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health

What Happened To Empathy And Compassion??

I read something very disturbing on facebook this morning.  It was triggering for me, so read on with caution…

One of my friends on there is the daughter of a very precious friend of mine who passed away a few years ago.  This morning, she posted that her brother just committed suicide.  He hung himself with his belt.  She later wrote that their father would beat them as children with his belt, & he was always depressed.  This poor young man must have had a very difficult life.

As if this fact wasn’t tragic enough, some of the responses she got infuriated me.  People told stories of someone they knew who took their own life, or said how sad this made them.  One responder even called her brother selfish for doing this.

Selfish?  Really?  Obviously this person has absolutely no idea what it’s like to be suicidal.

To be suicidal is to be in the most lonely, depressing place imaginable with no signs of escape or that anyone cares you are there.  You believe suicide will end your suffering, & end the burden you place on your loved ones.  Logically, it seems like suicide is the only means of making things better.  After all, you rationalize, it’s not like anyone would care if you were gone anyway, & they might just be relieved not to have to deal with you anymore.  You honestly believe you are doing the world, especially those you love, a favor by killing yourself.  There is nothing selfish or cowardly about suicide.

Living with C-PTSD, I think about it often.  In fact, I have for most of my life.  Thankfully, I’m aware that suicidal ideation is a normal part of this awful disorder, so I won’t follow through with my thoughts.

Being suicidal is the worst feeling in the world, I believe. Then to have this young man’s suicide brushed off as if it was a stupid, selfish action like gambling away rent money, or something to be compared to others’ situations infuriated me. I realize in difficult situations, most people don’t know what to say.  Rather than admit that simple fact, they often end up saying something ignorant, stupid or extremely hurtful. The truth is, however, most people would rather hear something like, “I’m so sorry that happened to you. I don’t know what to say about it, but if you need me, I’m here for you.” than to hear some anecdote, how much worse someone else has it, or even “You should be glad his suffering is over now & he’s in a better place.”  Comments like this are extremely painful!  How would you like to hear that you should be glad your loved one who died yesterday is gone?  Wouldn’t that hurt you?  Then it will hurt someone else too!

Please just think about what you say to someone in time of suffering before you speak!  Don’t just blurt out cliches,because they come across as hurtful & insensitive.  The last thing someone in a dark place needs to hear is something  that will hurt them.  Offer to listen, to pray with & for that person, to handle some chores they need done, to run errands for them or even cook for them.  Encourage them to grieve- there is no other way to come to grips with a loss other than to go through the grief process, no matter how long  it takes.  Use common sense when dealing with people who are suffering- if it would hurt you if someone said or did something to you, then it will hurt them too, so just don’t do it!

And, when it comes to someone who has killed himself, please don’t judge!  You have no idea what went on in that person’s mind to push him over the edge.  You don’t know what happened in his life, or how things affected him. You have absolutely no right to judge or criticize that person!

I really hope this post doesn’t sound like my friend’s tragedy was simple fodder for my blog. That certainly isn’t the intent. I just want people to think before they comment on situation involving someone they care about.  Suicide is a topic near to my heart as well, & having been called selfish as well, hearing another person called selfish who not only considered suicide but followed through breaks my heart.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health