If you have ever been in the room with someone who has just received devastating news, you know the pressure to speak. We feel we need to “help” the person by explaining why they need to not feel bad. The truth is, they should feel bad. That’s what grief is all about. It doesn’t matter what you say, they will still feel bad. They may be stunned for now, but they will feel bad. The more you tell them not to, the less helpful you will be. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss. Normal and natural; not abnormal and unnatural.
What will help? Turn off your mouth, turn on your ears. Listening to a person in pain is a gift that is free, but hard to give. Our inability to comfort a person is our greatest strength. They are not broken, therefore they cannot be fixed. If you sit long enough, they will eventually speak, and they will need a heart with ears to hear their grief. If the loss is a death, they will tell stories, both about the person they lost, and about themselves. None of those are about you.
How long do you sit there? As long as it takes. Sit until they dismiss you. They will let you know when that is. Stay in the moment. Your phone must become non-existent. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. The world can take care of itself. It did before you were born and will long after you are gone. In that moment, you are effective. You are productive. You are helpful. You are present!
The best animals are those belonging to someone else. No, I don’t dislike animals, but once they are in your life, they are bad. They keep you tied down, and demand to be fed and loved and cared for. You ask them questions out loud, and put an answer in their mouths when they haven’t said a word. We give them personalities. “He’s stubborn”, or “She’s in a bad mood today.”
Animals are the new humans, and that is far beyond what is meant to be. We have come to the conclusion that humans are too complicated and too hard to deal with. We will just get a pet. After all, they are loyal and love unconditionally. They seem glad to see you no matter what you have been doing while gone. They don’t care if you are sloppy; in fact they may prefer it. If social media is to be believed, pets are a greater source of anger if mistreated than if humans are. An abused animal is the subject of many more posts than that of people. Abusing any living thing is wrong, but isn’t there an order of importance?
Animals can be therapeutic, but so can humans. It’s true, people often talk too much, often doing more harm than good. Humans are complicated, but they offer something animals can’t: the presence of a human being. If a man can’t get a date without carrying a cute puppy, then he is lacking something. If a woman puts her poodle before a man, then all three need help. We have lost too much of human relationships, so we give up on them. I know this won’t likely be popular. Don’t let your dog read this. He may become angry and bite me. If that happens, then at least you and I will have something to talk about.