“Depression makes everything look more depressing.”
— DR. ARCHIBALD D. HART
Faced with the confounding reality – that one of our own is suffering from a mental, emotional, or spiritual illness – we readily face a chaotic no man’s land in our own thinking.
Perhaps we don’t know what to feel, apart from what could be described as a flurry of torment that comes myriad different ways to knock us over when we are barely standing. No one seems to be able to help. Not only is this the darkest season, it is the one with least support. We find some of our friends ill-equipped to support us, whilst others become clearly disinterested. Never mind, God has a plan to help us get through; to create a tighter family bond.
Communication That Helps
Dealing with challenging times within a household scenario is best affected through effective communication – that the supporting party can arrange communications that offer grace, compassion, patience, and love.
As we commit to listening – believing in the inherent value of seeking to listen so as to attempt to understand – we open up space for the person we support. We are intentionally wearing their moccasins; feeling what it feels like as their toes press against the inside of their shoes. We are not there to give advice, unless, by chance of their expressed need, we might work allied with them on their problems.
We make time to talk with them, asking them questions that are relevant to how they feel, without asking too many questions, or asking insensitively.
We try to prove we understand by reflecting back what they have said to us, perhaps in our wording. We listen to more than the words, for some other indicators may be visible.
Maybe we know all these things. Perhaps they’re implicit. Sometimes what we need is to ensure the deep, underlying issues can be raised; in safety without recrimination. Good support means unconditional compassion, and that’s impossible to give unless we are surrendered to God – truly surrendered – to the point that it’s no longer about your life; it’s about the other person’s life – the family’s relational solvency.
Supporting people who are struggling in life is an honour and a privilege. If we are able to help them see some sunshine in the rain their struggles are less confronting. We listen to more than the words. We make time to talk. We try to listen more than we speak. We reflect back what they are saying. And we are as sensitive as we can be.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.