Losing your mom as a young person is arguably one of the hardest things anyone could ever go through, especially as a young woman. I feel like my best friend and biggest advocate has died. it feels like a huge part of me has died with her. There are things about me that people will never see because they died with her. There are things that no one will ever understand because they are painfully unique and only apply to the specific way that I grieve and feel pain. Humans need to acknowledge this. Everyone feels pain differently, even if it’s almost the same situation. No matter how similar the situation, the pain, healing and recovery will look different. These differences deserve respect. They deserve to be spoken of more. Humans need to give grieving humans safe spaces to share, to ache, to be open. Then, when the aching has aches, the pain has been felt, the tears have been shed, we begin to heal. Sure, we have bad days. And those days will look different for everyone. A bad day for me looks like a struggle to get out of bed, a struggle to smile, wanting to be alone, not really being able to go to class or see people, sometimes a lot of tears, sometimes none but wishing they would come because they are the only thing that feels like a healing balm. Some, of not all of that sounds familiar I’m sure. But even still, your bad days look different, sound different, feel different than mine. I really want to be conscious of the fact that it is not kind to compare pain. I think people do it to empathize, but it just seems to minimize the pain of someone. I don’t want my pain or feelings minimized, do you? Now, we are called to bear each other’s burdens, so what can that look like?
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Can we do this without being able to say that we know exactly what someone else is feeling? Um, yes. Doesn’t empathy mean we have to understand exactly what’s going on? That we have to experience everything in order to be understanding? No, I mean, it can help. But even if you have gone through the same exact experience, you will not have had the same exact experience with it.
Listen, listen well. That is my best advice for you in this area. Listen, give grace, allow time for tears before reminding someone that God’s timing is perfect, that good will come of it. Allow time to fully grieve, grief that needs to be felt, and remind them that Jesus is the only one who CAN fully empathize in all pain.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Don’t pretend to know exactly what anyone is feeling, it’s prideful. I’ve done it, because I think I know how to fix it. Well, I don’t know how to fix it. Before I even know what it is, I need to remember that I can’t fix it, and it wrong of me to pretend that I know something I don’t. Honestly, coming from an easily misunderstood and grieving person, it does not feel good to have someone assume they understand, pretend they understand, or compare pain. It’s just not helpful, not loving. I have learned that the hard way, from both ends. Hopefully you don’t have to go through either.