Should we offer help every time, some of the time, or never?
I gave some feedback recently to someone deeply and seriously into ‘early days’ of his new venture. He sent me a promotional piece. He’s trying to do some things I recommended. He’s doing it well. I replied commenting to that effect. And I offered a couple of ‘suggestions for improvement’. Those weren’t so well received. He acknowledged his reaction was negative – ‘his stuff’ he said. I got wondering, was it what I communicated or was it how I communicated my comments which caused the problem?
Now most people would say, ‘don’t waste time sweating small stuff’, but I will in this case. It isn’t so much that the small stuff matters a ton, but the person does. He matters plenty.
I wonder – for everyone, but particularly in my own case, whether I offer suggestions to others because I think they are good ideas, or because I think the person is worth helping? Both I think – but these things happen so quickly sometimes I wonder if my assumptions are valid, or if I just think they are?
Hi Mark. You are correct, there are no words. Saying that you are so ‘sorry for your loss’ and offering deepest condolences sounds like the merest platitude. We say it anyway because those are only words we have. It really doesn’t matter what you say because your friends are still going to be in shock. What will matter now and in the days or weeks to come is what you do. Not words, but actions. Just sit and listen? Help with the arrangements? Write a eulogy and speak at the memorial? I know you are a talented writer and speaker. Whatever the nature/degree of your friendship is will determine your level of involvement in helping pick up the pieces. No one should have to survive their children. I can’t think of a worse pain. So if nothing else just be there to carry a bit of the burden, DM, Ladysmith, BC
I felt compelled to respond. As someone who has lost people close to me (but not my own child, thankfully), I experienced everything from close friends avoiding me because they didn’t know what to say, to distant acquaintances seeking me out to acknowledge my loss. My advice is to say the truth, that you have no words; in my opinion what’s important is that you acknowledge their loss and that they know you are there for them. If appropriate, you can offer to do something for them. If you do make an offer, make it specific (because everyone says, “if there’s anything I can do…”). In that vein, I have offered to be a chauffeur, do some housework or gardening, take clothes to be dry cleaned, shine the family’s shoes before the funeral, etc. And of course, food is always appreciated, especially if it can be frozen. Good luck, and I am very sorry for your friends. There really are no words, DAB, Edmonton, AB
My Heart goes out to your Friends and to all their Family and Friends. Sad to read this morning about this tragic accident. No words offered will restore their loss, but keeping the lines of communication open, offering them help in any small way or simply letting them know you are there, is the only thing they can process. They need Love and Support now more than ever. To many times when we are faced with news like this we as people tend to shy away leaving those suffering to feel lost, confused, and feeling like they have been abandoned. While we know nothing we say will help them bring their loved one back, its them knowing people truly care that will see them through this. Keep feeding them love. You and your Friends are in my Prayers. – MJ, Calgary, AB
Oh yeah, used to happen all the time. Used to consider the source as much as the critique and depending on who would just dismiss it as being of no account. On the other side of the coin and to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, the only thing worse than being criticized, is not being criticized. If you don’t have critics, it’s because you aren’t doing anything. Clearly you are having an impact on one particular gadfly. I already know you have influence on many of your readers. So, you win! And a happy belated birthday my friend! , DM, Ladysmith, BC
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