"Life can be sh*t", words expressed to me recently at a funeral. Indeed, life can be at times, sh*t. In situations where life seems unfair, we all want to help. However, saying things like "Look on the bright side", or "There's always good in bad situations if we look for them", or maybe "Keep moving forward", is unhelpful if said too soon despite being well-meaning.
While these things are true, timing is paramount.
When information comes into our brain, it is firstly tagged with an emotion, sent to the back of the brain for reference to past events, then sent to the front for action to occur. During this process, we can only reference what has taken place, that's our point of reference and it is different for each of us.
Even if we ourselves have been in a situation to that of another who has had similar things happen to them, our point of reference will still be different due to numeorous factors which means we do not know what other people are going through. We can only surmise and generalise.
Furthermore, when a string of negative events happens, the emotion of each event is intensified in the next event and our points of reference are therefore predominantly more negative. We struggle harder to find the positives.
The best thing, in my humble opinion, to say to someone who expresses a comment such as "Life can be sh*t", is to agree. Because it can be, and for some of us, continue to be. You can dress it up however you want to; "We are being tested", "This will make you stronger", "You will get through this", or "Time will heal all". For some yes it will, for others, it may take longer. For the most part, we will get through these tough times, in time.
Grief, in particular, takes time to work through. And, if we have had other negative events happen to us in the past, research shows we may be a little weaker rather than stronger. I do not believe that negative events make us stronger, I believe that they make us wiser. Multiple events impact on us in such a way that we can be slower in our recovery.
So what can you do to support someone who is going through a particularly difficult time with multiple negative events? Be there. Be there to help do the practical things that need doing, be there to shield them from additional pain, be there to listen, and be there as they seek expert guidance from a professional. Simply, be there.
Pushing someone to move forward too quickly is terribly unhelpful if the person is not yet ready. We all must move forward without a doubt, but only when we feel it is the right time for us to do so.
Time is the one thing that allows us to properly grieve, allows us to find answers, allows us to rebuild, allows us to consolidate existing memories, and allows us to make new memories. Time also allows us to seek expert help as there are some things such as multiple events that we cannot recover from by ourselves, no matter how good our positive outlook might be.
And most importantly of all, let's talk!