How to Help A Sad Person: Rules of Engagement
1. Don’t narrate my condition. This includes saying things like:
a. It’s going to be hard.
b. It will always hurt like this.
c. This was given to you because you can handle it.
d. You’ll get over it.
e. You’ll never get over it.
f. You’ll be stronger when you come out of it.
g. God has a plan for you.
2. Don’t judge my condition. This includes saying things like:
a. Enough already: isn’t it time you just get over it and move on?
b. You are depressed: you should get antidepressants.
c. You don’t want to wind up like (so-and-so) who lay on the sofa depressed for years.
3. How to Help: Helping is easier than you think. Just take baby steps…with me.
a. Stay in touch in small ways: a one-line email saying, “I am thinking of you.”
b. When you see me, just give me a hug. There is no need for words. A hug says everything. Absolutely everything.
c. Send me a hand-written card, yes, even months later, especially months later, to let me know you are thinking of me.
d. Invite me to go for a walk, or come to tea, or go to lunch.
e. Bring by a couple of apples, a little nutritious food, if you think of it. Sometimes I forget to eat.
f. Include me when there are get-togethers. Invite me to go with you, with several people, somewhere, anywhere. I don’t need anyone to talk about what is happening with me, I simply need to be included. Let me be part of your togetherness so that my sadness can exist out in the world, wordlessly, amidst the fun and fellowship. That might offer temporary relief.
g. There is only one thing you can say to help me now. Simply tell me, "You are doing an amazing job.” An amazing job with this process. Grief is hard work, harder than you can imagine, and since you don’t know, cannot possibly know, what I am going through, support me in small ways and acknowledge my work.