“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.” —Hafiz
“Every part of me hurts. It relives the thoughts, the last moments, the missing, all of it. I cannot bear the thought of not having him with me. I know he’s no longer here, and yet I don’t want to believe any of it.
I simply cannot. It hurts too much. And then it hurts too much not to.” she said to me one evening.
Until it hurts too much not to.
It hurts until we can no longer bear the hurt.
When we finally stop hiding from it, that is when the grief begins to lift.
This winter, amongst the holiday cheer can also be some holiday blues.
Today’s post isn’t about fixing, giving advice, rescuing someone who is down.
It is simply about holding a space so their own light can SHINE.
Below are ten simple ways to help lift someone’s spirits.
1. Prizing. Look at your friend and pay her a genuine compliment. See if you can make it really specific to them. Example: “I love how you are so caring and committed with the animal rescue work that you do. It is really inspiring.”
2. Tell them how much you much you care and appreciate her. “I appreciate it when you….”
3. Write her a handwritten note. Uplifting words can go a long way. Especially getting mail in the post!
4. Go on a walk. Let nature soothe the both of you.
5. Plan a movie night. Rent something funny, make popcorn, bring out a pint of ice cream and get cozy on the couch.
6. A small token/gesture of love, generosity of the heart. Bring her some flowers, chocolate, something nurturing they may not get for herself. It doesn’t have to be bought. It can be a stone you picked up on a walk and it reminded you of her.
7. Invoke your inner child. Go play somewhere—bowling? Do cartwheels on a lawn? Hula Hoop?
8. Spend quality time. Invite her over for tea/coffee. Hold a space and let her know you are there to listen to anything she may want to share. That nothing is too much, too little, not enough, she needn’t to be “over it”b now.
9. Physical touch. Give her a hug, a touch on the arm, a soulful gaze to let her know you care.
10. Empathy/listen. Don’t pretend to know she might be going through. Instead of saying “ I understand what you are going through” say something like, “I can’t begin to image what you are going through. This really sucks. I am sorry.”
Alan Wolfelt, PhD has an amazing philosophy for helping the grieving.
Companioning vs. Treating.
The word “treat” comes from the latin word “tractare” which means to drag. If we combine that word with “patient”, he says we can really get into trouble. “Patient” means passive long-term sufferer.” So if as a grief coach I treat patients, I am figuratively dragging passive long-term sufferers. Yikes! That doesn’t sound good, does it? Nor is it very empowering.
On the other hand, “companion” in the latin roots, means for “with” and pan for “bread.” Like someone you share a meal with, a fried , an equal. So he took the noun and made it into a verb called “companioning” .
Below is what he shared it means to him, and it is something I’ve taken to heart in the “holding of space” that I do. I wanted to share this with you today, so perhaps the next time you are with a friend who can use some cheering on, it may shift the way you help her shine her light.
Companionship in the way of being a guide, bringing comfort to another by allowing them the dignity of their story, becoming familiar with their story so you can travel alongside.
A complete discussion of Dr. Wolfelt’s companioning philosophy can be found in his books Companioning the Bereaved and The Handbook for Companioning the Mourner.
Companioning is about being present to another person’s pain; it is not about taking away the pain.
Companioning is about going to the wilderness of the soul with another human being; it is not about thinking you are responsible for finding the way out.
Companioning is about honoring the spirit; it is not about focusing on the intellect.
Companioning is about listening with the heart; it is not about analyzing with the head.
Companioning is about bearing witness to the struggles of others; it is not about judging or directing these struggles.
Companioning is about walking alongside;it is not about leading or being led.
Companioning is about discovering the gifts of sacred silence; it does not mean filling up every moment with words.
Companioning is about being still; it is not about frantic movement forward.
Companioning is about respecting disorder and confusion; it is not about imposing order and logic.
Companioning is about learning from others; it is not about teaching them.
Companioning is about compassionate curiosity; it is not about expertise.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I would love to hear below your interpretation of companioning.