Monday, April 27, 2009

When in doubt, do!

I was talking with a friend recently who had lost a loved one.  The one sentiment she expressed to me was that she wished that she had understood before the passing of her loved one, how much it meant to receive that little note or phone call showing that you care. 

So often in our lives, we think that when others are going through difficult times, we had best leave them alone to grieve, to recover, to prepare, etc., these are well intentioned thoughts, however, there is nothing wrong with sharing a note, a message, flowers, a frozen meal on a door step, whatever you feel you can do for another person.  This expressing of love and caring is often held back because we want to "respect another's boundaries" and yet, the best outpouring of love and support that I have seen in my own neighborhood and circle of friends has been when we have done the exact opposite.  

Most of the time, it is a lack of knowing what to do or say that holds us back, our own insecurities, if you will.   I have posted on this before.  If you have a friend, neighbor, or even an acquaintance who has lost a loved one, I have some suggestions on bereavement correspondence here.

When someone is ill (or their family member is ill) whether an acute illness or chronic, I have some suggestions that I've thought of.   

I think that our biggest faux pas is always in lacking to do or say something, ignoring what is in front of us, rather than addressing it.  There are always appropriate times and places to do so, but we are never remiss in letting others know that we care, only in ignoring other's suffering.  

I know that in my own personal experience I have not been perfect in addressing my loved one's suffering, but I have tried to consistently share caring (and sincere) thoughts with friends and loved ones (and sometimes people with whom I might be less well acquainted) because positive and sincere caring never hurt anyone but I do believe that a lack of concern can be hurtful to those in need.  

How does this tie into etiquette you might ask?  In every way possible, in my opinion.  This is the epitome of etiquette in my mind.  True etiquette is not snobbery or the putting on of airs, it is the sincere caring of another's comfort.  We want others to feel comfortable in our presence and in genuinely wanting that, if we strive to put ourselves out in situations that may seem awkward (like the ones mentioned above may be for some), we may find that we make new friends, heal another's heart, lift another's burden, or make another feel at ease.  

I hope you will take this challenge in it's most pure form and strive to place yourself in this position more often.  Even if this means for you writing more Thank You notes, express to others what you have failed to express in the past.  Do better and be better.  


Chablis said...

Amen! We all have those thoughts of a small thing we should do, but usually put it out of our minds because it's "small". But small things are the greatest kind!!

Katie said...

Thank you for this. I agree with the statement, "When in doubt, do." Last summer I lost my father completely unexpectedly one month to the day before my wedding day. I was so overwhelmed that I seriously considered post-poning the wedding. Luckily some very incredible women came to my rescue and took over all of the decor planning and last minute details. I had a beautiful wedding day and was still able to take the time to greive that I needed. I never would have asked anyone to do this but I am so so glad that they did.