Not too long ago, a good friend, known for her calm, warmth, and generosity of spirit reminded me of the power of words. The right ones at the right time. Or, sometimes unintentionally, the wrong ones at the wrong time.
My friend had recently lost her husband. She received many calls, cards, visits, hugs, and much love. She appreciated all of them. And yet she said when well-meaning friends asked her ‘how are you doing?’ She said “I wanted to SHOUT – how do you think I’m doing? I just lost the love of my life. Instead,’ she added, “I just say … I’m OK, thank you.” The fact is, continued my friend – “I am not OK right now. I feel like a puppet going through the motions in a fast-moving parade.”
Tentatively, I asked what one might say? Her thoughtful response. “I’ve enjoyed being with those who just listened. They let me reminisce. They smiled in the right places. They would frequently interject, “I’m so sorry.” Some held my hand. Others hugged. Whatever was on my mind and heart, they gave it space to escape.”
No matter the circumstances, the questions we ask, the words we use, are powerful. They make a difference. We should choose them carefully. As my friend gently reminded us, if we are at a loss for the right words - our best choice could be - no words at all. An understanding nod or smile is a universal language we all recognize.
My current reminder - on my left palm, in wash-off ink, I write ssshh.
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