Friday, May 18, 2018

This, Not That (Or, what to say to people who are grieving.)

Just some thoughts to help people who don't know how to help or what to do:
Not ThatSay This

Variations:"It will be okay in the end/the next life."

"I know that, despite what you're going through, God really loves you and is pleased that you are still fighting even though things aren't ideal right now."

Why: The next life is utterly irrelevant to current grief. We were sent here to this life to live in this life, even the bad parts. Encouragement and acknowledgment of the battle the griever is fighting can help give them the strength to keep trying.
"You can be happy despite your circumstances.""What you are going through right now is really horrible. It's okay to be angry, or sad, or disappointed."

Why: Grieving people are trying desperately to put a smile on it, to fake it 'til they make it. But they need to know that what they are feeling is okay, and it's okay to show it.
"You are so strong. I don't know how you do it." Variations:"How do you get it all done?""Come here and let me give you a hug, and we can cry together."

Why: People who are grieving have put on a mask of strength, but it is a lie. They are simply bundling up their weakness and hiding it from everyone. They need permission to be genuine, to act as they really feel.
"Maybe you need to simplify, and cut back.""What is frustrating you the most right now? Let me see if I (or someone I know) can help."

Why: Most of the time, people who are overwhelmed by grief have already cut back as much as they think they can. It only feels like one more failure to be told to cut something else that is vital.
"I know we haven't talked in forever. I'm just so busy.""I am so glad I got to talk to you again. I've missed you."

Why: Layers of guilt mixed with feeling like you're a burden isn't helpful. But feeling appreciated and valuable is desperately needed when you're grieving.
"I'm worried about you. Are you okay?""I know exactly what it is like to be so overwhelmed. Don't be so hard on yourself. What you're feeling is something you need to get through. I am here."

Why:When you tell someone you're worried, you are putting one more layer of guilt on someone who is already feeling like simple life tasks are too hard. Be a shoulder to lean on, rather than one more person they have to take care of.
Any others?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

"That they might have joy."

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of "forced joy," or (much like Elder Uchtdorf's talk in fall 2017) the idea that we can be joyful in spite of circumstances.

It's something I'm really struggling with. I can pretend to be happy. It's not hard. I can spare everyone around me the struggles that I'm facing. But the more I try to pretend I'm not facing them, the more they weigh on me. The more "joyful" (read "of positive affect") I become, the more sorrowful I truly am.

When I accept that it's okay to have a hard time, that the things I'm going through really do suck, and really are hard, and really do hurt, the more I can separate them from me and find joy in spite of the hardships. But other people often don't see the joy I feel, especially since few of them are around me to see it.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Pride of My Heart: Doing it Myself

And so great were their afflictions that every soul had cause to mourn; and they believed that it was the judgments of God sent upon them because of their wickedness and their abominations; therefore they were awakened to a remembrance of their duty. —Alma 4

There are so many things about recovering from a divorce you once swore you would never allow to happen, and subsequently coparenting with someone who likely has serious mental issues that gives a person "cause to mourn." I have been mourning the loss of my marriage and the loss of peace and freedom for years now. Until recently, I haven't been able to truly look at the cause of my afflictions and (hopefully) see them for what they are.

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