It fascinates me how many people offer advice on things they know nothing about. This is just a general observation – it’s not a poke or jab at my family and friends, Lord knows they know me too well when it comes to stuff like this. This is about people in general. It’s a reflection on that line that everyone hears when they have something monumental happen in their life — ‘I know what you are going through.’ It’s a statement that is usually followed by advice of some sort.
I am not averse to advice, it is part of everyday conversation, and in normal circumstances it is taken with a pinch of salt. After something monumental, it’s not normal circumstances, and frankly, in my case, I wanted it all to just go away. All the decisions and problems and the mess I called life. I didn’t want advice – I wanted a miracle.
Truly I don’t think anyone ever really knows what someone else is going through. So the advice, although well meaning, can be quite frustrating for a variety of reasons – you’re not ready to “move on,” you don’t have the capacity to “get back out there.” You finding yourself feeling like a failure because you figure the advice was good, and that’s what other people do, so why-can’t-I? sort of thing.
I work in a place where, as of late, a fair number of my co-workers are experiencing the death of a spouse. More than once I have been approached by people I know asking if I could meet someone that I don’t know but who works somewhere in the building (and it’s a big building), who like me, is dealing with loss. I will never say no, of course I will meet them if that’s what they want, but I also am unlikely to offer any advice to those I meet. How can I? I have no idea of their circumstances, what sorrows they carry secretly, what was said, or what was left unsaid.
What I will do is just listen, and maybe cry with them, hopefully find something to talk about. I will give them the type of support I valued throughout my grieving process. Family and friends carried me for the first while, and I can’t qualify that by saying ‘little while’ because it wasn’t. They didn’t advise me, they assisted me, and they still do. And, when I was ready, it was the confidence of that support that helped me make my own decisions based on my own circumstances.
This is my learning: we have to find our own way, but it’s okay to take a hand to help you on your way. And if you are really floundering, see a professional.