Sitting with the discomfort

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have suffered a great loss, or a major disappointment? You are in a place where you are reeling from the shock and hurting so badly. And then someone says to you.

“It’s for the best you know.”
“He’s in a better place.”
”Did you hear so-and-so suffered (insert apparently worse situation than you are in).”
“You’ll get over it.”
“Aren’t you over that yet?”
Or other hurtful things that I have not listed.

And all you want is for someone to sit and listen, maybe put their arm around, or cry with you, or just be with you and offer compassion.
Why is it so hard for people to do that?

Yes, our society teaches us to ‘fix’ problems and many of us are programmed to offer advice and suggestions and fix other people’s problems. That is unhelpful. People want to be heard. Not fixed.

But that doesn’t explain the uncaring comments.

In truth most of us feel very uncomfortable with pain in other people. We don’t know what to do about it. When we don’t know what to do about something, we try to push it away. But what if we just acknowledged the discomfort and sat with it anyway? What if, instead of trying to shut the other person down (because that is what those comments are doing) we just sit with them, in their pain, and do nothing?

Yes we will feel uncomfortable, but what is wrong with that?

The person in pain will feel a lot better being able to sit with their grief and pain, have it acknowledged, being given permission to grieve, and feeling they are not so alone because someone is prepared to sit with them.

And maybe someday, someone will do that for you too.