In some cases, time and nature by themselves may bring healing. In most cases, however, recovery from tragedy requires intervention of friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, sources of social support. When confronted with a disaster or a situation beyond our ability to cope on our own, we usually reach out. We acknowledge our inability to go it alone any longer. Either we initiate a conversation, or respond to others’ offer to listen. We need “someone to talk to.” More, we need someone to hear what we say, how we feel, and to provide some advice as to the direction we need to take.
Many times, the simple presence of our support figure meets our deepest need. Job, devastated by a succession of calamities we cannot imagine, sits at the city dump. When friends (more peers in wisdom) learn of his plight, they meet to visit him. They brave sitting with other outcasts and victims of infectious diseases. Because tragedy can immobilize us, the friends’ initiative reinforces Job’s value to them. It also confirms his value in his own eyes. Especially after we experience a disaster, we need reassurance others love us, value us, and care about us.
Let’s examine other aspects of social support next week.