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  • Fe Robinson

If you don't know what to say, say so

Sometimes there are no words. Awful things happen to those we love and we simply do not know what to do or say.

This can be a very difficult situation. Let's face it, many people feel very uncomfortable with things outside their own experience, particularly if they trigger vulnerabilities in them or are around social taboos. Traumatic deaths, completed suicides, serious illnesses, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, serious disabilities, discrimination in all it's invidious forms, deprivation, hardship...I could go on, the list is unfortunately awfully long.

Oftentimes when faced with these things, people withdraw. Just at the time when support is most intensively needed, the crowd thins, and friends and loved ones become oddly unavailable. Often with no malice intended, the vulnerable are left unsupported, carrying unmanageable burdens on their own.

We can do better. We must do better. We do not have to have solutions, or platitudes. We do not have to cheer people up or try to make it OK when it patently isn’t. All that is needed most often is a willingness to be there, to be a gentle presence, and to offer our love.

If you don't know what to say, say that. Empathise, relate, and be with the uncomfortable for those you love and like. Show up, and keep showing up, and draw in your own support to make that sustainable.

Professional support is available to help you and your loved ones face whatever life brings. If you're in need, reach out to a psychotherapist or other health professional, it may help lighten the load.


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