How to Best Help Someone in Pain

Our society is not comfortable with someone else’s pain. We are taught to help someone overcome pain as quickly as possible. If you see someone crying, our first inclination is to say something or do something to help them stop. We want to make people feel better. But do you know why this is? Yes, it’s because we think we are helping, but truly it’s because we don’t know how to handle it, so we try to sweep it under the rug, so that we can get back to feeling like everything is okay. Because if this could happen to someone else, if someone I know could lose their baby at almost 39 weeks, the day before being induced, then it could happen to me, and that scares people, so they shut down the person sharing.

When we rush someone through their tears, through their feelings, through their experience to help them “stop crying” or start “feeling better” we are actually not helping them. We are shutting them down. They in turn, don’t open up to you again, and they are left feeling lonely and like no one understands what they are going through, and like they have no one where turn.

The best gift you can give someone you love is to learn how to walk with them through their pain. It’s not your job to make them feel better. No one could bring Harper back to me, so my situation wasn’t “fixable.” Nor did I expect anyone to say or do anything that would take my deep, sharp, relentless pain away. I did, however, need to live through the pain. It took time for me to wrap my head around what the heck happened in my life, and how I was going to live without her.

This is why therapy is essential, in my opinion, to recovery. Therapists are experts at walking beside their clients as they process and heal their pain. My therapist specializes in grief, and was instrumental in my healing. I recently saw her and hugged her so tight, because she walked with me through a very dark time, and helped me regain my strength. I will be forever grateful. She was one of the only people that came to visit Josie is the hospital the day she was born. Watching her hold my baby, who I yearned for so deeply, was incredibly special.

I know that friends and family are not trained therapists, and I knew I needed a professional who was experienced in grief to help me. I am a trained therapist myself, so I know the power of a professional. Outside of professional help though, close friends and family play an extremely important role in healing.

Here’s what I have learned, and here’s what truly helped me. If I were to talk about Harper, I needed someone to not rush me to look on the bright side. There is no bright side to losing a child. I felt incredibly supported when someone would send me a card, or remembered her birthday. I loved when my friends would continue to include me in regular get-togethers and no matter how many times I said no, they never stopped asking. Most of all, I love when people speak her name, tell me they miss her too, and understand that my relationship with her will last a lifetime.

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