Think how often you have witnessed someone crying, only to hear a well-meaning friend say, “Don’t cry!” We take a valid emotion and turn it into something to avoid.
I remember feeling very uncomfortable when people cried. I wanted to “fix” sad people and make them happy again.
But then I lost someone dear to me. And another loved one. Then several more.
And now, I feel differently.
When other people tried to fix my own sadness, my eyes were opened to how unhelpful it really is.
Now, I’ve come to the conclusion that sadness has its perfect place, and should not be ignored or fixed. Instead, it can be embraced and engaged, trusting that sorrow is meaningful.
Sorrow has its place, just as do laughter and even anger.
Though we mean well by trying to “fix” those who are sad, we only invalidate their experiences and emotions. We downplay whatever made them sad and try to rush along their recovery artificially. With our actions, we are telling sad people they are broken and need to be fixed immediately.
The grieving man needs friends to be with him. Not a band-aid for his soul when he instead needs empathy and a safe place to vent and be sad!
Once I went through sadness for myself, it became clear: sorrow is not the problem.
Our response to sorrow, however, is the problem.
“Don’t cry,” is just not the right thing to say, and I hope to never say it ever again. Instead, I will try to just be with you, giving you permission and freedom to be sad.
Why is it so tempting to cheer people up when they are down?