July 7th, 2010

fountain

On sad friends...

I have a friend who's going through a tough time right now. I sympathize, but at the same time, every time I see her, all she does is talk about the struggles she's dealing with. I had another friend like this who moved away -- and I remember how hard it was to be around her sometimes.

The thing is, I want to be (and am) sympathetic and even empathetic. I hate to see people suffering (I think most of us do). But it's hard not to come right out and say things like, "You'll never get past this if you keep thinking about it -- wallowing in it -- all the time." I'm not good at confrontation. I listened to my first friend for almost a year before she moved, and I never said a thing...well, kind of. I did make a couple of comments about trying to find the good in each moment rather than letting the bad overwhelm us.

What do you say? Is it better just to listen and let someone vent?

When I'm unhappy, I don't like to wallow. I mean, I do (a little bit), but I mostly just want to get on with things. However, I've never had circumstances as grief-filled as either of these two friends, so who knows? I definitely learned from the first friend -- I started reading Tolle and really considering how to accept what life brings us. I imagined all kinds of worst-case scenarios, trying to figure out how to deal with the emotions each one might bring. And although I have no way of knowing how I'd really react in any of those circumstances, I now have lost the majority of the fear attached to it -- the worry. Worry used to be my constant companion, and now it's a rare visitor.

I suppose everyone must find their own way through grief, sorrow, regret, guilt, etc. So maybe the best thing for a friend to do is simply to be there -- through venting, through whining, through anger. What do you want from friends when you're struggling with something overwhelmingly challenging?
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