I was sitting in a rustic camping lodge on an island in Washington State with a crackling fire in front of me. The smell of pine and earth and wood smoke delighted my senses with each inhale. Around me, people were chatting intently and occasional spurts of laughter erupted in the great hall.
I didn’t want to be there.
Have you ever thought this before you call a friend who has just lost someone to death?
I’m pretty sure most of us have.
Especially if you haven’t experienced grief yet, it can be awkward and nerve-wracking trying to say the “right thing” and steer clear of something that will make the person feel worse. However, many times the very things we think will comfort the person only end up hurting them.
Let’s look at some ways you can help your friend start the slow bounce back from grief.
Let’s expand a little bit on the idea of acceptance that I wrote about in a recent post. In that article, I talked about how important it is to accept the reality of the adversity you may be facing.
Now let’s talk about the aspect of acceptance that has to do with letting go. Many times when I talk about letting go, I can see people’s eyes start to roll back in their heads.
“Oh great, I’ve fought and fought to keep my house from going into foreclosure, and now she wants me to give up?”
Herein lies the common misunderstanding: letting go is not so much about giving up as it is about giving in. It’s not about just standing by, doing nothing, as your house goes into foreclosure. But it is about giving in to the reality of your current situation and letting go of judgments and expectations you might have about the outcome.
Resilience: The Beginning
Emmy Werner and Ruth Smith sifted through the mounds of data from their longitudinal study and noticed something peculiar. Of the children born on Kauai in 1955, there were a group of them that were at high risk for doing poorly as they grew older.
It wasn’t this group that caught the attention of the researchers, though. It was a subset of this group. The subset, about thirty-percent of the high-risk kids, was doing well. Really well.
They checked the data again. Yes, all of the high-risk children were facing the same types of adversity: parental issues including low education, behavioral health issues, and discord; health problems; poverty. And yet some of the children did very well while others did not.