When someone we care about goes through a particularly difficult loss, we usually want to help. Sometimes they ask to talk with us, but often they don’t. Perhaps they have some other trusted friend or relative they’ve already selected to help them through. Maybe, not wanting to bother anyone, they have no one. How do we help?
Helplessness usually characterizes our response to our friend or loved one in loss. We wish we could relieve the suffering, reduce the pain, or soothe our friend’s raw nerves. That need to help can provide us incentive to offer our services of friendship, of talking, or of simply offering our getting together. It can also lead us to rush in with a need to fix; it usually backfires.
Can we live with our helplessness? That’s a tall order for some people. Naturally prone to intervene in others’ affairs, some people know immediately what other people need to do. My mom knew how to solve other people’s problems, especially how they needed to raise their children. I’m amazed at how many people have successfully raised their children since she died! I benefitted greatly from my training in pastoral care and counseling in learning how to help others learn to solve their own difficulties. It’s a skill we all need to develop.
Have you tried to help others by attempting to fix their problem? How did it work out? Have you tried gentle support? How did that go?