Shower the people: If it feels nice, don’t think twice

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, or heard people admit they don’t know, what to say or how to be around someone who has lost a baby. The thought occurred to me overnight (after having this asked of me again just yesterday) that my reply could be applied to pretty much any situation. Obviously, you cannot fix something as final as death. You can’t take away a person’s angst over a fight they had with their mum. You can’t mend someone’s loved one who has terminal cancer. You can’t change family court-ordered situations for a friend. Despite often being impossible, it isn’t appropriate or even necessary to get involved to that degree. But you can be there after the fallout.

When it matters most, many of us don’t have the level or duration of support that’s really needed to help us get through.

How about we start by simply asking:

“How can I help?”

You know why people think that’s so tricky to ask? Or inconsequential in the face of such dramatic life-change? They’re trying to predict and preempt what the reply will be. SO, it follows that if you are going to offer that simple, short, four-word (and no more!) question to someone, you’ve got to be prepared to pull out the stops and step up and do whatever.

It may be you have to drive someone’s elderly parent to an appointment across town, or take that single parent’s child after school, you wash someone’s dog for them, or walk with them to visit the grave of their child. You may just find yourself sitting in their kitchen and saying diddly-squat while they pour you a cup of tea as they pour their heart out.

All too often, I heard, “If I can do anything, you just let me know.” Often, this was accompanied by a patronizing touch on the shoulder. I’m here to tell you, that won’t do. That will never do for someone who is independent, obviously hurting and/or grieving, but frozen in any direction – least of which the direction of saying they need help when previously, just yesterday, in fact, their situation was “normal” and they were fully functioning, self-made, capable adults who didn’t need help.

It is extremely difficult for some people to ask for help. Even harder, sometimes, is the realisation they even need any. Until you are in that situation yourself, you don’t know that most of the population apparently think it’s a given: “Just ask for help when you’re down in the pit and need a hand out. And if you can’t, then that’s your bad luck….”

But what if it’s not what you’ve ever done in your life because you never had to, or you stopped asking because you’re so used to being let down, or you’re scared of the lack of control… or whatever combination of many reasons it might be?

When that independent person suddenly gets thrust into a situation where they clearly could do with receiving help from others, do we really think that person is going to be in a state of mind to ask for the help they need? Often, no. They’re not. They keep going, keep surviving until “whatever” comes next.

But oh boy, what a big difference we could make to each other if instead of that open-ended “You need me, you come and ask”, we turn up and say with grace and humility:

“Tell me how I can help.”

Sometimes practical help isn’t something that will change anything about a person’s situation. What if what they are seeking can only be found within themselves? Could a simple question posed at the appropriate time get their mind thinking in a direction that helps to free up the barbs around their thinking? So that they find the answers themselves eventually?

“What would you change if you could?”

Simple little questions. No agendas. No trying to guess the answer or the outcome for yourself. Leaving it all up to them, with your passive and, therefore, powerful support backing them up.

Even if your offer is turned down, you’ve changed something in that person. They might have just needed that spark of initiation – “Ah! Not all human beings are out to get me/bad/unfeeling….” – and you may never know what you’ve started in motion. Remember… you can do this for another! Check your ego at the door first, extend the hand of help, ask the questions.

You probably won’t get the accolades to match what you’ve done for the other person. BUT… this is true service.

 

And now, I shall leave you with my favourite song from the man who should have been Mr Kirrily.


When in doubt, make like James Taylor - “If it feels nice, don’t think twice”…!

Oh how I love James Taylor so much. He is absolute perfection. Listen to that cream-and-honey voice! Look at that gorgeous face. He’s soooooo handsome, so sensitive. I’d marry him tomorrow if he’d have me. Oh…. and if I weren’t already married to my own tone deaf James Taylor (hi, Lenny!).

Turn it up loud. Harmonize in the chorus! Try not to think about what I think he means when he says “What I’d like to do to you” because I’m sure he means something different to what I imagine… Ah {swoon} Sweet Baby James.

Shower The People

You can play the game and you can act out the part
Though you know it wasn’t written for you
But tell me, how can you stand there with your broken heart
Ashamed of playing the fool
One thing can lead to another; it doesn’t take any sacrifice
Oh, father and mother, sister and brother
if it feels nice, don’t think twice (just)

(Chorus)

You can run but you cannot hide
This is widely known
And what you plan to do with your foolish pride
When you’re all by yourself alone
Once you tell somebody the way that you feel
You can feel it beginning to ease
I think it’s true what they say about the squeaky wheel
Always getting the grease.

Better to…

Shower the people you love with love
Show them the way that you feel…

 

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