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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 20, 2010 / 13 Teves, 5771

Comforting with Sympathizing

By Alan Douglas




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In her murder mystery, Still Life, Louise Penny writes on behalf of her protagonist, Inspector Gamache that, "He'd seen it many times, people jockeying for position as chief mourner. It was always human and never pleasant and often misleading. Aid workers, when handing out food to starving people; quickly learn that the people fighting for it the front are the people who need it least. It's the people sitting quietly at the back, too weak to fight, who need it the most. And so too with tragedy. The people who don't insist on their sorrow can often be the ones who feel it most strongly." As there are so many forms of grief there is no single right way to respond. People do not go down the same road or take the same steps. You can be better prepared to comfort, rather than just expressing sympathy by following this advice.

When approaching someone in distress, the most important thing to remember is this: You Don't Understand. Accept that you do not understand what they are talking about. Accept that you do not understand what they are going through. Accept that you do not understand what will help them. A recent study reported that the long-term recovery rate for those receiving professional grief counseling frequently were worse than those who did not receive counseling. Grief is still a mystery. Remembering that You Don't Understand may stop you from assuming you do know, and, in the end, only making matters worse.

When you want to aid a family member or friend in certain times of distress, remember these rules. Relating a similar illness or disaster from your own life may be both self-centered and harmful. Misery may love company, but it doesn't like to compete. Do not tell a story about how much more you have suffered. That game of "poor me" or "one downs-manship" only demonstrates that the world is about YOU. Support groups are great for feeling solidarity with others in misery, but in the initial stage of being distressed, your upset friend wants to be the only one upset. And if they are your true friends, it should be nothing for you to grant them center-stage during their time of despair. Do not attempt to match their woes.

Secondly, the whole 'count your blessings' thing only goes so far. Sure, you can tell your upset friend the story about the man who cried because he had no shoes…until he met a man with no feet. But it is really not what your friend needs. You can just call them a "big cry-baby". My friend, Mary Wickstrum, leads teams of operating room nurses. Almost every day her nurses witness first-hand serious illness and fatal disease and human tragedy. Do you really believe that stops the nurses from complaining about their own problems? Mary hears many petty complaints, and sometimes she must tell her staff, "Cry me a river, build a bridge, and get over it." She has reminded her colleagues how luck they are and how bless compared to their patients but ultimately it is all about getting on with life and moving forward.



The safest immediate response to grief is to accept that the situation stinks. Having done that, you need to determine what the upset person really wants. Their crisis may be real, and it may not. Remember Aesop's fable about the boy who kept crying, "Wolf!"? A consultant once told me the moral of that story is that no body listened to a guy who correctly forecasted the danger, and he got eaten.

Since you do not understand the situation, you will not know how real the crisis is, and it is secondary to the emotional upheaval. Here are the three primary alternatives to help you differentiate between sympathizing and comforting:

Supportive. Maybe all the person really needs is for you to agree with them. Their definition of supportive and sympathetic is telling them that they are absolutely right. This is the most common, as well as the trickiest since, as you may recall, "You really don't understand." Those searching for unquestioned support and unwavering agreement from you will, sniff out any hint of dissent or doubt. Be especially careful or cautious of ambivalent phrases the aggrieved party may pounce on as being disloyal.

Sharing. Individuals sometimes jus want to be center stage. If they just want the attention, sit back, listen, and nod. In a "sharing" situation you never interrupt unless there is a fire or national disaster. No distractions are appreciated. One must really, really concentrate on the problem, or pretend to, at the exclusion of all else. Let their mascara run. Let their nose drain. Hand them a tissue. Do not answer your phone.

Advice. Do not assume that you are responsible for helping your friend "fix" whatever problem they may be dealing with. In all honesty, they may like their dilemma more than you know. Wallowing in self-pity is how some people enjoy spending their entire lives. You have to be invited to the party before you can start to dance. Unless the person wants specific helpful hints, stifle yourself. Your best intentions to save this person from doom are not sufficient reasons for you to trespass. Unless asked for, your "help" will only hinder the situation. They will not appreciate you and may even start arguing or attacking you. Since you don't understand anyway, your suggestions, advice, and comments are most likely wrong. The more upset and disoriented a person becomes, the less likely you are to get the facts or complete description of their situation.

You should be equipped with the usual arsenal of comforting, band-aid phrases at hand. The immediate problem, loss or hurt demands attention but since You Don't Understand give it time. The biblical admonition is, "This, too, will pass." Poet Robert Frost said he could sum up all there was to know about life in three words, "It goes on." Time and love may heal one's hurt for some, but not for all. Time adds a different perspective or another distraction. Later events may prove that, what was a huge disappointment was actually a blessing. There many comforting band-aid phrases available, but don't count on them. In the end it may boil down to your relationship with the person, and the amount of effort you put in to caring for, and comforting them. We remember the people who sat with us in the hospital waiting room, and those who came to visit long after we've forgotten the surgeon's name. How our friends and loved ones respond when we each have a crisis is the basis on which we build our lives. Life has, and always will be unpredictable. Because You Don't Understand, you should not expect, or take responsibility, for making things better. All you can do is to make a real effort. We have some control over our destiny, and even less control over the destiny of others. Will Rogers put it right when he said, "Things will get better, despite our efforts to improve them."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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JWR contributor Alan Douglas, an author, media executive, speaker, and attorney, lives con brio- except when he is grumpy.


Previously:

Nautical Worry Killers
Can You Keep A Secret?
Holiday Card Hazards
Gifts
Sharing, Transparency and Dumping
Red Alert
Readers Respond Regarding Rabbi
Readers: I Need Your Help with my Rabbi
Humphrey Bogart and P. T. Barnum on Fighting with Family and Friends
Columbus, Honors and Hound Dogs
The Free Lunch
When your child suffers
Conversational Transmitted Diseases
Conservative, Liberal or American
Paris, Antarctica and Shopping
Personal Protection
Dispute Resolution
Jumped or Pushed?
Friends and Acquaintances
Revenge and Vindication

© 2010 Alan Douglas

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