How Simply Acknowledging Another Person’s Pain Can Help Them More Than Telling Them to Cheer Up by Megan Devine, via Lori Dorn
“How Simply Acknowledging Another Person’s Pain Can Help Them More Than Telling Them to Cheer Up”
Well, no kidding!
I’ve been saying this very thing forever at the Christian blogs I’ve been posting to for eons now.
Most Christians I went to for empathy after my mother died victim-blamed me, shamed me, offered unwanted and unsolicited advice, and tried to give me theology lessons.
I had plenty of Christians compare my loss to, say, starving orphans in Africa, and tell me that since the orphans had things much worse than I did, I should ‘just suck it up buttercup’ and get over it, so, sure, it’s bad your mom is dead, but hey, you don’t have it nearly as bad as African orphans, so stop moping about the death already!
I was given cliches.
Sometimes, I was given cliches with a religious twist; a lot of Christians liked quoting that verse from the book of Romans at me during my time of grief, about how ‘God works together all things for good,’ so that I really came to despise that verse.
I didn’t need any of that.
I just needed someone to sit with me as I cried about the loss, or talked about my Mom, maybe reassure me that with time, things would not be so painful.
Or, I could’ve used someone to just sit and visit with me and not say a word – their presence would’ve been so comforting and helpful.
I did need and want the enormous pain of the loss to be acknowledged, but most people (again, these were even devout Christians) I went to wanted to gloss right over it, or downplay it, or shame me about being in (emotional) pain.
I thought this video posted below – about pain, grief, and empathy – was pretty good. It should be required viewing for all Christians, since so many Christians are apparently unwilling or incapable of offering non-judgmental emotional support.
The Bible says to “weep with those who weep,” but most Christians seem to have a Bible translation that reads, “Lecture, shame, give unsolicited advice and platitudes to, and scold, those who weep.”
‘You can’t heal somebody’s pain by trying to take it away from them.’
Megan Devine of Refuge in Grief has created a truly insightful animation that offers helpful advice around consoling a friend who may be grieving. Rather than telling them to cheer up or look on the bright side, Devine suggests that a simple acknowledgement of their pain will be far more productive in helping them heal.
It’s so hard to know what to do when your friends are hurting.
The thing is, you can’t cheer someone up by telling them to look on the bright side, or by giving them advice. It just doesn’t work.
Watch this video to learn the one thing that will improve all of your “I’m here for you” intentions, and be that supportive friend you most want to be.