Stig Dagerman, the Swedish writer and journalist said that the human need for comfort is insatiable. But there’s a void because many of us don’t know how to comfort another. The art of giving support to those who are suffering or grieving may not seem easy and yet we must all learn how to do this.
Comfort starts from understanding and the genuine desire to connect to others. Understanding and empathy is what those who are grieving or are in pain most desire. Sometimes, all we to do is show up and display ordinary kindness.
I’d like to share two true stories that show how simple it can be to be there for another.
In the Holocaust Museum there is a story about an exchange in a concentration camp on the Day of Liberation (1945). The prisoners still alive in concentration camps were being set free. A young American Lieutenant, extraordinarily moved by the bleak and foreboding nature of the setting, asked one prisoner to show him the camp. As they approached a building, the lieutenant opened a door for the young woman, and she collapsed in tears. Certain he had offended, he did his best to comfort her. After some time, she told him, “I am weeping because it is the first time in years that someone has done anything kind for me. Thank you.” – As told by Terry Hershey
Such a simple, everyday gesture became a such a meaningful symbol to a woman who had experienced such inhumanity in the concentration camp.
My wife Susan was teaching pottery to four- and six-year-olds. One day, a little boy, Billy, didn’t feel well. He stopped what he was doing and simply stood in the middle of the room without making a sound. Very quickly, the other little ones sensed that something was wrong. In a few minutes, the entire group encircled Billy. They were all up close showing their concern, as if being close would hold him up. After Susan tended to him, she noticed that no one was moving. So she said, “Everyone is concerned about you, Billy. Can you let them know if you’re alright?” Billy nodded, took a deep breath, and said, “I’m alright.” Only then did the others go back to their piles of clay. – – Mark Nepo,The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters
Very simple gestures can make a profound difference. Simple gestures – give hope, listen, hug, hold space, empower, rekindle a light within the other.
In October, I’m writing for 31 Days about Living A Principled Driven Life. You can follow my posts here.