I Wish I Had Remembered
When she was crying over her sudden loss, I hesitated to ask her questions about how it happened. I forgot she still needed to talk about all that. I forgot that hearing her feelings was important but that she also had to tell the whole story.
When their child died, I tried to encourage them by reminding them that they had other children, and by suggesting that they could have another child. I forgot that this one can never be replaced.
When he lost his job, I tried to cheer him up by pointing out all the possibilities that lay ahead of him. I forgot that he wasn’t ready to think of them yet. I forgot to give him time to deal with the blow he had been dealt. I forgot to stand beside him in love and supporting care as he grieved and coped with a painful loss.
When he got that big promotion at work, I forgot to enter honestly into his joy. Instead, I teased him and downplayed it, as if it were not that big a deal. I forgot that by doing that I was throwing water on his enthusiasm.
When she told me about her sadness when her cat died, I tried to empathize with her by telling her about a cat that I lost once. I forgot that right now she didn’t care about my cat. I forgot that she needed my sympathy about HER loss— not trying to listen to someone else’s story.
When he told me about what a hard day he had been through, I thought I was sympathizing with him by telling how hard mine had been, too. I forgot that my woes did not help him deal with his own. I forgot to ‘leave my story at the door.’
I forgot to remember the things I’ve learned to do better. I forgot to remember that the right things to say and the right things to do don’t happen automatically. I have to remember to think consciously of my words and actions. I need to remember that there are hurting people all around me, whom I can help and comfort by my caring acts and my attention. I have to remember to be thoughtfully consistent in my desire to offer care and kindness.
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