How to Speak to Someone About an Unspeakable Loss

"Today, as I recall the loss of my own infant son, I think about the one person who did truly comfort me. She arrived at my house with a bottle of fine brandy and said, “This is everyone’s worst nightmare. I am so, so sorry this has happened.”

Then we sat on the lawn and she poured me a drink as she listened to every horrible detail.

As I look back now, I still feel how much her gesture helped me cope through those early days of pain. She didn’t try to fix me or try to make sense of what happened. She didn’t even try to comfort me. The comfort she gave came through her being in it with me.

You can’t fix what happened, but you can sit with someone, side by side, so they don’t feel quite so alone. That requires only intention, a willingness to feel awkward, and an open, listening heart. It’s the one gift that can make a difference."

.The Gift of Presence, the Perils of Advice @PARKERJPALMER

“Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.

Aye, there’s the rub. Many of us ‘helper’ types are as much or more concerned with being seen as good helpers as we are with serving the soul-deep needs of the person who needs help. Witnessing and companioning take time and patience, which we often lack — especially when we’re in the presence of suffering so painful we can barely stand to be there, as if we were in danger of catching a contagious disease. We want to apply our ‘fix,’ then cut and run, figuring we’ve done the best we can to ‘save’ the other person.”

@BreneBrown on #Empathy. "What makes something better is connection"

"What is the best way to ease someone's pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities". 

#Denial is Tricky. On #Being. @SharonSalzberg

"At our core, we assume that hiding from pain will somehow keep us from feeling it. Of course, trying to shut our minds off to suffering effectively ensures that it will persist, in some form or another… 

Denial is tricky. Sometimes, we think we are not in denial because we recognize the existence of an uncomfortable feeling, but still turn away from it. Our denial voice might say, “Of course I know I am going to die, but why think about it?”

We need not dig deep into all the possible physical maladies we might experience when we die — that’s not the point of opening up to discomfort. The larger point is that each moment becomes immensely powerful when we strip away various denials. We can recognize our fear of death, of change, of letting go of our attachments, and feel the discomfort of that recognition. By being honest with ourselves about our various forms of suffering, we don’t feel more suffering — we create freedom".