I suppose when it come right down to it, I would not take Lincoln’s sage advice that, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”
One of the biggest assurances of life is that it is absolutely devastating much of the time. A big fact of life is that human beings strive to tip toe as carefully around the former fact as much as possible. Maybe approaching subjects that hurt ultimately hurt and so in our effort to relieve pain we try to down play and ignore it so as not to exacerbate the person experiencing it personally.
However, as well-intentioned as this might very well be – I’ve never heard anyone complain about being asked how one is doing with a tough issue like depression, divorce, heartbreak, etc…
I was sitting in the car with a childhood friend whom I had not seen or spoken to in a while. Although she was familiar to me, the events she had experienced in the past years were not familiar. She began to talk about how when her parent’s were getting divorced people showed concern and interest in how she was dealing with it. Once the divorce finalized, she was feeling the pain of the separation harder than ever before the it was official. She couldn’t seek comfort because she was vulnerable and everyone who had initially stuck by her had moved on with their concerns to other “fallen from Eden” affairs. This hurt the most. No one noticed her pain any more. She was most hurt by her friends lack of outward expressions of concern about her parents and how she was handling it.
Part of the reason we don’t seek to show comfort is that feeling of embarrassment to speak of serious matters. We feel safer speaking of the mundane trivialities of the day but when it comes to religion, politics (maybe not as much politics), or topics of legitimate pain and issues that cannot be explained or controlled we can not deal with them. We can not sit with them. There are no immediate answers for these problems, thought truth can always be revealed but not always recognized.
The reason I do not speak up is the fear I will proclaim myself a fool, as Lincoln suggests, by opening up my mouth wide. But in my heart I know that it’s better to proclaim yourself an overly compassionate fool than be thought a heartless friend by the one in pain.