Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'll Be There

You know how when something bad happens to you, people around you try to console you by saying things like “I know how you feel” or “You have to be strong” or “Everything will be okay”? Do you feel consoled or does it irritate the hell out of you?

Most of the time it would irritate the hell out me especially if I know for a fact that person has never gone through what I have gone through but acts as if she/he knows what she/he is talking about. I would be tempted to slap her/him, I can tell you that. As much as you want to help and I’m sure you have good intentions but when you are trying to console a person you have to be mindful of what you say. I don’t know about other people but when I’m pouring my heart out, I would expect the other person to just keep quiet and listen and not offer any advice. Not yet. I also expect that person not to jump in and say, “I know how you feel!” and start telling me her sad story and expect me to feel better because something bad had happened to her too (albeit not the same as what happened to me) and I should be relieved because I’m not the only person suffering here. I think there should be a course on how you should console a person and if you don’t have the necessary “tool” or “tact” then you shouldn’t attempt to! You will only make it worse.

If a friend just told you that her husband had cheated on her with another women and she’s devastated, the last thing you should say to her is, “I know how you feel” when in fact you’ve never gone through such ordeal. You don’t know the feeling of being lied to and betrayed and saying things like that will only make your friend angry at you because she will think you’re insensitive. You will never fully know how it feels until such things happen to you. And please don’t start shooting your mouth off by telling your friend to leave her husband and get a divorce. If you’re trying to console someone in that situation, you need to keep your head straight and not get angry. Your friend is counting on you to give good advice and telling her to leave the bastard and get a divorce is NOT good advice. Oh yes, the advice goes the same for the men too. Please don’t go asking your friend to leave his wife and sleep with a hooker to get back at her.

As a friend, as much as you want to beat her husband up for hurting your friend and urge her to leave the bastard, at that moment you need to keep your opinions to yourself. It’s not about what you want. It’s about what’s best for your friend. What if later she decides to get back together with her husband and give him a second chance? You never know. How many times have you reminded your spouse that if you ever find out that he cheated on you with another woman then you would leave him and get a divorce? It’s not that simple, is it? A human heart is mysterious and complex. When someone had done something which you think is so unforgiveable, somehow you would find yourself forgiving that person. Not right then and there but slowly you will. You will if he shows remorse and willing to change. After all, doesn’t everybody deserve a second chance? I’m not saying it’s easy and some people may decide to throw in the towel and I’m not saying it’s wrong to do that. To each her/his own. What I’m trying to say is life is not always black and white. The sooner you realise it the better life will be for you.

If she asked you what she should do and you honestly don’t know what to do then just say so. Your friend is vulnerable and she is relying on you for direction at that moment but if you don’t know what to say then be quiet, rather than say something you will regret later. Tell her to be calm and tell her she needs to decide what’s her next course of action would be. You can only guide her to the right path, give her all the options available and tell her you will support her no matter what. What you cannot do is hold her hand and make her do what you think she should do. She has to decide her own fate.

Now if a friend had just lost someone very dear to her like her dad, her mom, her child or her husband the same rule applies. Don’t be saying, “I know how you feel” if you’ve never lost someone dear to you. And no, losing your cat or your dog is not the same thing, even though you loved your pet like a family member. Just offer your condolences and tell her if she ever needs someone to talk to or share feelings with then you’re there for her.

Don’t ask her to be strong all the time because sometimes she just can’t do that. She needs to feel like she can be vulnerable with you. If you can make her forget her pain even for a while then that is good enough. Pray that she will get through this.

Okay. Now as a person going through the above situations, sometimes you need to cut your friend some slack. There is a reason why you went to your friend and confided in her in the first place. It must be because you fully trust her. It’s not easy seeing a friend suffer, you know. Your heart breaks everytime you see her cry. So if your friend somehow said the wrong thing, just remember that she is also in a difficult situation because she has never felt how you felt and there is no book that can guide her into saying the “right” things. So, if your friend tells you to cut off the bastard’s ball don’t go and do it la. She’s just saying that because she’s angry that someone is hurting you. But if she says, “I know how you feel” when you clearly know she doesn’t then I give you the permission to slap her.

Some people can get through difficult situation on their own and some need friends to alleviate the pain. If you’re one of those who think can handle it on their own, then don’t go telling a friend about your problem. You’re only putting unnecessary burden/pressure on her to say the “right” things to you.


KaiserSoze said...

how true Sher. the last thing someone who is grieving needs is for his/her friends to cry to "share" the burden..it doesnt help. Then usually the one who is grieving ends up giving consolation coz he/she is feeling so awkward for "making" the friend cry. I know they all meant well and tries to say/do the "right" thing but like you rightly pointed out, there's no such thing as the "right" thing to say/do apart from letting your friend know you are always there should there be a need in any way..that is more than enough..

Freak and Geek said...

thanks for the post.

perfect timing. to me especially. and perhaps to others too.

that sometimes a friend should just be there. without saying or doing anything. just the silent presence is more than enough. :-)

Ms B said...


MOnths of hiatus and you come up with a deep post. Were you looking for inspiration, just like those famous book authors? *grins*

Ok, on a serious note, there are times that I just keep quiet cos I dont know what to say. Also, I get annoyed when people assume that just because we went tru certain things, it makes us an expert in that matter. Each situation has different variables to be considered.

So does this mean we have to wait for 2 months for another brilliant post dear? *smile*

Cosmic_GurL said...

Kaiser, you know the part u said abt the person who tries to console us but up crying and getting all emo and then we in turn have to do the consoling bit? So true! And i thought that is so not ons la...i mean here we are trying to calm down but now kena pikir how to calm the other person down plak..iskh...

FnG - I'm glad this post helps you go through what ure going through now :)

Ms. B - LOL! Yeah yeah i know..i'm soooo bad at updating right? Will do better and try to update more often..hehehe...hopefully it wont be another 2 months for my next post :P
I agree with you that no 2 situation is the same..there are variables..it's annoying when ppl cant see that

east43street said...

Being a good listener is actually the best thing to do to console you friend. As simple as that.

Long time no hear sis.

katakbesar said...

try to take a mile
in someone's shoe
than, one could probably 'know'
how that someone felt

and, even after that mile
one could only imagine

because, no mile is the same