Recently three types of events have been more frequent than I like within my community: funerals, layoffs, and health issues. These are all issues our friends experience, and our response is critical. When I was younger, I avoided conversations with someone struggling or grieving. I felt helpless. However, as I mature, these events become more common in my circle of friends. So something has changed for me in the last decade. I feel more comfortable with …..the uncomfortable. I know the person in the difficult situation benefits when I navigate situations like these with discernment and sensitivity. Some are seeking a listening ear. Others are hoping for advice to move forward. Sometimes they just want someone around. Really it can be as simple as knowing someone actually cares. A packed room at a funeral shows the family and friends left behind that their loved one mattered to the tribe. Layoffs become an opportunity rather than bad news. Injuries and aging are easier to handle when we know we are not alone. These can only happen if we are intentional. When we resist avoidance and engage with someone who is hurting, we lighten his or her grief.
For more on a similar topic, listening well, see my Three Part Series on Listening.