Are you uncomfortable?
When I was a volunteer for Camp Quality, dealing with grief comes with the territory. Camp were amazing at supporting us and each year they ran education for companions on how to not only support ourselves, but also the families dealing with cancer. One session was run by grief counsellor Mal McKissock. The guy is a genius and one thing he taught us was that sometimes when we try to comfort a grieving person they end up comforting us. For example, when people attempt to comfort a grieving person they say things like "I am sorry, I just don't know what to say”. The grieving person then tries to make the other person feel comfortable so they say "It's ok, I know it's hard to know what to say. I'm ok......,"
What Mal said is when with a grieving person NEVER make it about you. Sit in your discomfort and let them grieve any way they want. If they want to scream and yell and cry, let them, it’s about them not you.
What it illustrates is how bad people are at sitting in discomfort, even when the stakes are incredibly high (helping someone with grief).
Another example is I called a friend, only to find that her partner of 10 years had just left her. I said “That is awful, you must feel terrible”, she said “I do feel terrible and I have been sitting on the lounge for 2 weeks eating chocolate”. I replied, “That sounds like the perfect response to your situation”. Later in the conversation she said to me “If another person tells me that ‘things happen for a reason’, I will punch them in the face”. What she discussed was peoples inability to deal with her discomfort. People encouraged her to ‘move on’, ‘see the bright side’, ‘rebuild her life’. Very few people said “That really sucks, you must feel terrible and it’s ok to feel terrible”. They wanted her to move on so that they could feel better.
In this world, where happiness has become dysfunctional, we want to feel on top of the world all the time and when we don’t, we freak out. Discomfort is ok, it makes us tougher and it teaches us lessons. When sitting with people in pain, don’t try to fix them to minimise your discomfort.
That was pretty heavy so to lighten it up here are some hilarious cards that show the right way to comfort someone.