I just heard that song from the 70’s,”Sad Eyes”, by Robert John. Part of the lyric in a nutshell is a dude who is having an affair with another woman before his wife comes home from where ever and he’s telling her he can’t see her any more, and he says…”sad eyes…look the other way…I don’t want to see you cry”. Whew, it made me sad. I won’t even get started on the actual crappy situation I will keep my commentary strictly to the, to cry or not to cry part.
Bridging the Gap
Of course it stirred the pot in me. I know there are quite a few of our brothers and sisters on the planet that have a difficult time watching someone cry, so I would like to be of service if I can. I would like to bridge the gap between those of us that cry at everything or at least important things and those of you who have a really uncomfortable time with it. I would like to give a quick tutorial on what to do if someone breaks down in tears in front of you. First of all, let’s discuss the different kinds of criers. In general profoundly empathetic and sensitive people have an enormous amount of compassion. Of course not in every case but for the most part. Usually there is at least one in every family and they have a very important role in their family and on the planet. Highly sensitive people often feel the grief of the planet. There are folks who will help to carry your grief or the grief of other family members. Sometimes there are those who feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. Take the events of 9/11 for example. There were a lot of us that sat around for days after that, immersed in crying and sadness, and then there were others who kept the flow of the community going. Not taking the time to express that kind of emotion.
Emotion Takes Electricity and Gas
Emotion takes an enormous amount of energy and stamina. It also takes the right philosophy to accompany it. Many people don’t cry because they associate it with shame and weakness, others feel that if they give in to it they may never dig themselves out. The truth is if you or someone you know is experiencing grief and sadness but unable to express it, that energy goes somewhere. Most likely to the closest family member or friend who is willing to feel it. Or even someone like me who feels every ones grief. Now that we know; the who, what, and how; let’s organize the options for how to support these highly sensitive compassionate people.
- Always look them in the eye. Ignoring them or showing them your discomfort can never help and usually supports the idea that somehow they are broken.
- If you don’t know what to do, ask. It is okay with most criers if you admit that you’re not sure what to do and ask. Ultimately it makes them feel better to be acknowledged rather than judged.
- Never yell and scream at someone who is experiencing extreme emotion. Not only will it escalate the situation but it will make both of you feel worse.
- Hugs are good for some and not for others, but always a good idea. Just ask if it will bring comfort to the one who is grieving. Just a little disclaimer: Usually the crying one will cry harder when hugged.
- Sometimes just sitting in silence with a friend is the best medicine.
- Always remember that grief is temporary. What you feel now you won’t feel later. So focus on getting through the moment. If you do, it will process more quickly.
A Loving Job
In the times in my life when my grief was the worst, somehow the people around me provided the least comfort, and it always seemed that it shouldn’t be that way. Living in New York City certainly made me durable, but there was a lot of grief. During those times it was often the homeless people on the street that were the only ones who would look me straight in the eye, and ask if I was ok. I always said that I was, and felt great relief and comfort because someone had the courage to look at me and ask. Ultimately someone who suffers doesn’t want you to take their suffering, they just want you to be nice, kind, and honest, and they definitely don’t want to have to help you deal with the fact that they suffer. That is your job…and a loving one should you decide to embrace it.