…someone tells you they have cancer.
…someone loses someone they love.
…someone experiences a pain that is unfathomable and beyond your realm of understanding and experience,
DO NOT say “Everything happens for a reason.” If they’re too polite to say it out loud, I’m fairly certain they’re mentally screaming in your face and telling you to go fuck yourself.
It’s instinct. When a person sees someone in pain or with grief, the immediate instinct is to take it upon her/himself to ease the individual’s suffering. Well-meaning and innocent as these statements may be, they’re incredibly patronizing. I realize that the last 3 sentences on this list are along the same vein. People who have experienced any degree of grief in their lives may or may not need these reminders. Some may receive sentiments as condescending.
- Everything happens for a reason.
- Be strong.
- Time heals all wounds.
- This, too, shall pass.
- It will get easier.
When dealing with someone who is grieving, remember, let that person know s/he is loved. Allow them space. Be kinder than usual.
One good rule of thumb is to treat people you love and care about as though you love and care about them, before shit hits the fan in their personal lives. Don’t hesitate to be encouraging, without waiting for tragedy to strike first. Spread love, always, and it’s bound to come back to you.
I had a close call recently, and it was the strangest thing. My compact sedan was seconds away from being t-boned by a moving truck, and I knew that had the driver struck my car, I would have ceased to exist. The strange part is that when I felt moments away from death, I wasn’t fearful. I thought my death was imminent and I was at peace. I thought of my family.
To summarize, I was making a left turn on my way home from Target. The light was green, and the oncoming traffic was steady. There was a short break, and this oncoming truck had his right blinker on. There was a gap, and I took the turn. Up until a couple of days ago, I never trusted people’s blinkers. In a split second, I floored into my turn, and the truck didn’t seem to slow down (I don’t think the driver could have).
Before you tell yourself a joke about an Asian woman driving, I’d like the point out that the latest vehicular accident death statistic is around 3,200 people who perish per day in car crashes (statistics from Assosication for Safe International Road Travel).
I was shaken and surprised that there was no loud crash, no shredded car, and that I was still breathing. I really did think I was going to die. And in that moment, I felt the weight of everything I always wanted to do but have never done. I wondered what I had been waiting for. I was so grateful. I inhaled deeply and savored the sensation of air filling my lungs.
I remembered that it had been a while since I did something that scared me.
That I couldn’t remember the last time I watched a sunset, or a sunrise for that matter.
I don’t enjoy selfies enough.
I have to get these books out.
I must serve more people. Who can I help?
I must love more people and animals and flowers.
I gotta plant more trees.
I’m leaving Florida; I should surf while I’m here.
I must become a billionaire so that I can save animals and parts of this planet.
The list goes on. I’ll take it one day at a time, make an impact in the space I occupy and serve those who are open to me.