This past week, I've endured the greatest personal crisis of my life. While I am not ready to share the details with the entire www, I did want to share some things with you. I've had many friends go through times of crisis recently as well and always felt as though I didn't know what to do. Here is what I've found to be helpful and while it might not apply to everyone in every situation, it may help you help someone in their time of need:
1.) Don't ask the question, "How are you?" It is often a stupid question that makes it difficult to respond to and often times, leaves those in crisis lying and saying "fine" or "I am ok."
2.) It is ok to check in on people as long as you let them know that if they don't want phone calls or you to come over that you won't be offended if they say so. Continue to do so, even if you don't get a response. The person may just not be ready to respond yet, but it is nice to know that people are there and care for them.
3.) Allow people to feel what they feel without judgement or ridicule. People handle situations differently so allow people to handle crisis in their own way so long as it doesn't harm themselves or others.
4.) Don't tell people what to think or do in times of crisis unless they specifically ask for your opinion.
5.) Don't ask a lot of questions without first asking if they are willing to talk about the crisis. I got cornered at church yesterday with some lady who was not getting the hint that I did not care to talk about it with her. I finally told her the situation so she'd leave me alone, but felt very angry and violated that someone wouldn't stop asking me questions, especially a stranger.
6.) Do not gossip or share other's personal crisis for entertainment purposes. Even the "prayer request" can turn into a way to gossip so be weary of the amount of details you share. If you are ever in question, share less rather than more.
7.) Ask what you can specifically do. Offer what you are specifically willing to do. For instance, "Can I make you all a meal?", "Can I watch the kids for you?", etc. Sometimes saying something general may not be helpful because depending on the person they may not feel as though you are willing to help so "call me if you need anything or want to talk" may not be specific enough in helping them.
8.) Pray. Often times, that truly is the only thing one can do in times of crisis.
Everyone will go through some type of crisis at one point or another. The severity or damage done is quite relative as to each person their crisis may feel like the biggest crisis in the world, so never minimize someone else's pain. You have no clue about their experiences so what may seem like nothing to you, may be something very painful to them.
I've been surprised at people's responses to crisis. I am usually on the other end, consoling a dear friend going through something, but it has made me wonder, have I ever reacted this way? Have I ever not contacted someone who I knew was enduring a painful situation? Have I ever said the wrong things to make them feel more pain? I just pray I have not, but you never know how your actions affect other people. This is no way meant to condemn anyone, but I am just wondering about myself and if my responses to other people's crisis' have been what they needed at the time. I know from now on, I am definitely going to be more aware as to what people may need in times of heartache.
Here's to learning something new....
Until next time,