La Voz Latina - Su puente a la comunidad Hispana de Georgia y Carolina del sur

Stand By Me

  • Agustin Martinez

     Suffering a personal tragedy is the worst thing a person will ever have to endure. Those of us who have witnessed tragedy befall someone we’re close to know how heart-wrenching and helpless it feels to watch a love one struggle through such an ordeal. The helpless feelings may be overwhelming, especially if those who are suffering withdraw from friends or family out of despair.
     As I have been told on many occasions, “I didn’t know what to say.”
     The other day a friend of mine made an interesting comment. He said, “You know Augie, its okay not to be okay.”
     He was referring to some recent personal struggles, but in that moment of sincerity he helped me understand something else.
     What do we say when someone we care about gets that deadly diagnosis, or a friend loses their child, or discovers that their spouse has been unfaithful? What do we say?
     We send messages via social media. We put them on a prayer list. We will, of course, attend the funeral (in the case of a death). But, most of the time, we avoid going to see them. The reason is very simple– we feel uncomfortable and awkward, not knowing what to do or say.
     Feelings of inadequacy are very normal and nothing to be ashamed of. To use the same expression my friend used, “It’s okay not to be okay.”
     But doing nothing should not an option. The point is simple– just go and see them. They need to know you care. Do you lack wisdom to share with them? Join the club. Most of humanity is at a loss for the right words when something awful happens. In fact, there may be no “right words” to use when tragedy strikes. The most and best we can offer is to stand beside them and grieve with them and allow them to grieve.
     Some people are very uncomfortable with crying, so they grow even more uncomfortable when others cry. They use terms like, “He/she lost it” when, in fact, crying is a natural release. It is a way for the body to relieve itself of anguish.
     Dealing with tragedy, whether it happens to us personally or to a loved one, is part of life and part of maturing. We will all deal with it sooner or later. We will either be prepared, or we will find ourselves feeling quite uncomfortable and trying to avoid it.  
     When the tragedy and the emotions connected to it begin to wash away, we will then be faced with guilt for not having been there for our loved ones.
     To avoid this, you must summon the courage to go see the friend who has just suffered a life-altering tragedy. You don’t put up a false front. Be yourself. Acknowledge that while this is uncomfortable, your love for them is stronger than your discomfort.
     If you have no idea what say, just say so. Listen and then listen some more. Allow them to express themselves. Some people who are suffering make absurd claims, such as saying they were at fault for being bad parents or spouses, etc. Don’t try to contradict or even respond. Allow them to unload. Hold them. Cry with them.
     Life is coming. When tragedy strikes someone you love, put on your best face and go see that person who is drowning in sorrow. When their door opens, just shake your head and say the simplest of things– “I’m sorry.” “I love you.”
     Just be there.

Issue Month: 
Tuesday, January 30, 2018