Over the last year, a few of my dearest friends have walked through some of the greatest struggles and most intense grief of their life.
Because I’m by nature a doer and a fixer, I want to be the Solutions Girl. I want to swoop in and make everything better. I want to wave a Magic Wand and take away all the hard from them.
But the reality is that I’ve been powerless to fix the situation, heal their broken hearts, or take away their anguish and hurt.
The one thing I could do? I could show up and give the gift of myself.
Showing up and giving of ourselves is one of the most valuable gifts you can give — and often, it’s the one that is the hardest. It’s the gift that says, “I’m not here to try to change or fix or solve; I’m just here. And I’m not going anywhere.”
In the midst of others’ grief and loss, we often want to slap on bandages and trite phrases so that we can feel like we’ve “done something”.
However, the greatest gift we can give is not “the perfect word” or “the perfect solution”. As I’m slowly learning, in the middle of intense grief, there really aren’t any words that will be perfect.
No, the greatest gift we can give is the gift of our presence. To show up again and again.
Practically speaking, this might be:
- To just sit with someone in their pain, listen to them, look into their eyes, and say, “I’m so sorry.”
- To send them that text to let them know we’re thinking of them.
- To call them to pray with them or ask how they are doing.
- To drop off flowers or coffee or a note of encouragement at their door.
- To order pizza for them for dinner or to make a simple meal and drop it off.
- To hug them and hold them and let them ugly cry on your shoulder.
- To pick up their groceries or run an errand or watch their kids or clean their house.
- To send a little note in the mail or an email to let them know we care.
However it practically plays out, the most important thing is that we show up without an agenda or a quick fix or a solution. We just show up to remind someone that they are seen and noticed and loved. And we keep showing up — even when maybe no one else is.
We can’t show up like this for everyone we know or we would be exhausted and spread too thin. But I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone, and look for one or two people who are hurting in your life right now.
Find one simple way to show up for them today. To give the gift of your presence — with no strings attached. To let them know that you are there for them, you love them, and you are walking with them as best as you know how.
There’s a powerful bond that is forged when we are willing to give the gift of ourselves like this. It doesn’t cost us anything financially, but it’s one of the greatest gifts we have to give.
- The first quote is from the book: A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough by Wayne Muller.
- I recommend the book, Just Show Up, if you need further encouragement & practical ideas.
- The second quote is from the book: Rising Strong by Brene Brown (such a great book!)
ann beatty says
This is such a useful post. Sometimes when something tragic or difficult hits our friends it’s almost impossible to know what to say or what to do. I think sometimes some friends just disappear from the scene because they too are overwhelmed by their own inadequacy. this is such a simple thing to do – to just be there, to acknowledge the situation, be the shoulder to cry on. the best help I’ve ever received really was friends that just let me talk it out and listened. But even then I’ve often worried about what to do when i was wanting to be on the giving side and like the writer wanting to solve everyones issues. great to be reminded to step back from that and just turn up instead.
Thanks for just showing up for your friends. My family has been through a rough year (especially the last 2 months), I am so thankful for those friends that just show up. It’s such a blessing.
I love the quote on integrity, very convicting. I have been on the receiving end of “trite comments” and unfortunately I’m sure I have full share. Thank you for the practical examples!