Years ago there was a comedic character that would use the phrase, “know what I mean…” Of course we are not now talking about something humorous. Yet we can probably identify with something a friend or family member has tried to say, meant to be comforting or consoling, yet may have missed their mark. They may have at the moment they realize they did not quite achieve their intended goal, attempted to soften the sting by saying something like, ‘You know what I mean.
Lauren Briggs in her book, “What You Can Say…” tells of her own heartache at losing a child. After leaving the hospital she relates things people have said to her that only made her feel worse. Phrases like, “just be thankful you have…” “At least you can always try again.” “Don’t you think it was all for the best?” With these statements, however well intentioned I’m sure, she realized “No one, not even my family, understood how deeply I was hurting.” She learned as so many have, unless you have walked in her shoes, and had experienced the same type of loss she was grieving with, you really had no idea what she was living.
Being sensitive to others usually is identified with experiencing something similar to what others have lived. Yet it is possible to be consoling to others having not experienced what they have. Be willing to listen. More than ever people need people who are willing to listen to their heartache. Be genuine if you do say something. It does not have to be profound, lengthy or complex, it does need to be kind, considerate, and sympathetic to their current experience.
It does require a resilient, compassionate person willing to get involved in another’s life. This is Sunrise.