One of the things that I’ve noticed over the last year is that people seem to have a real problem with not knowing what to say when somebody is in an extreme situation. Rather than say the wrong thing, they say nothing at all.
I assume that it’s a variation on the old adage that if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. However, as the recipient of a lot of silence over the past year, from people I’d previously thought of as friends I’d have to say that it hurts.
As I start to re-enter the world a little, even heavily mediated by technology, I’m finding that many people just didn’t know what to say when they heard about my precarious health. So while they were thinking about me, and concerned; willing to help where possible, they still just said nothing.
So from my perspective, they didn’t care. They weren’t interested in me or what was happening to me. Their own life and situation was much more important than taking a few seconds to drop me an email now and then. It hurt.
So for what it’s worth – if you know somebody in a difficult situation and you don’t know what to say to somebody in response, may I suggest that you say just that.
Let them know that you are thinking of them. That you care.
By being silent you’re making a statement. It feels as so you don’t care enough to make an effort to say anything, even the wrong thing.
When people are in extreme situations; especially one like mine which is extremely isolating please take the time to just say hello now and then. It takes next to no time for you to do but means the world to those fighting such health battles.
There is one caveat to this recommendation of course. If you’ve been asked to not contact the person, that’s a different issue. In that case I strongly suggest that you do do as asked. People don’t ask for no contact with others lightly. Disrespecting such a request is incredibly arrogant and narcissistic.
I believe that people know what they can handle and what they can’t. Unless you’ve been asked not to contact somebody in a difficult situation… take a moment, let them know that you care.