Be Kinder than You Think You Need to Be

Jillian Brasch | January 20th, 2012

images-1Be kinder than you think you need to be–everyone is fighting their own battles. I saw this note on a break room refridgerator at a healing center. I loved this sign so much, I wanted to make t-shirts.

In our society, we don’t know when someone is grieving. They don’t wear black armbands. They might get a day, or two, or three off from work. Then they’re expected to go back, and be 100% productive. I can guarantee you, they are not.

I have friends who are grieving right now. I remind them frequently that grieving is the hardest work they’ll ever do. They do it 24 hours a day, even when they’re asleep. Their brains are tying to adjust, to make sense of the loss. I remind them to take their vitamins, get lots of rest, give themselves permission to do only what they feel like doing. I encourage them to take their own car and follow instead of driving with a friend. Going out to dinner, or a movie, or even a party may seem like a good idea at the time. But in a split second, it may become too overwhelming, and they may wish they were anywhere else. A person who is grieving may want a hug, and the minute they are embraced, they may feel claustrophobic. It’s a difficult time. Emotions can vary from moment to moment.

This saying also applies to people who are dying. Some people become short with their caregivers who are often the people they love the most. Stephen Levine says that the flu prepares us for death. I understand this. I know when I had the flu a couple of times, there was a point where I was suffering so much, that I pretty much felt willing to die. Of course, I wasn’t really dying so this was just a concept. If I had been dying I might have felt differently. I can’t know. But I do know that I was a bit short with my caregiver who was only trying to help. “No  I only want a coke and dry toast, not soup.” Couldn’t he see how sick I was? Couldn’t he read my mind? Of course not.

So I encourage you (and remind myself) Be kinder than you think you need to be–everyone is fighting their own battles.

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