When I called off my engagement two months before the wedding, very few of my friends asked how I was doing.
I would stand in rooms with my heart broken and people pretended that the most catastrophic event of my life thus far hadn’t happened. It was odd.
Sometimes more painful than pain itself, is when people pretend that it’s invisible.
When someone who loved me, would turn and acknowledge that I was broken, I was able to start piecing myself back together.
I was able to ask the elephant that followed me into every single room to exit for a few minutes. Why is it so hard to ask someone who you know is hurting, how they feel?
When someone breaks their foot, it’s all we ask. “What happened?” “Are you okay?” “How can I help?”
Mental breaks are just as traumatic as physical ones, except no one asks if you are okay, and no one wonders how to help.
Studies show that people who survive trauma or suffering, want to tell other people how. They want you to acknowledge the feelings they can’t escape.
Avoiding people’s feelings, is not the same as protecting them.
Of course I’m not talking about strangers who pry for information, I’m talking about people who love us, acknowledging that life looks different now, and allowing us to process that alongside them.
So when your friends mother dies, when her boyfriend/husband cheats, when they lose their job, or get diagnosed, ask them how they are. Don’t talk about the weather when all they see is clouds. Let them feel human and allow the pain that is so visible to them, stop being invisible to you.
Author Mitch Carmody said, after his 9 year old son Kelly died from a brain tumor, “our child dies a second time when no one speaks their name.”
When people are suffering, they need you to lean in.