This article has a lot to say about supporting someone who is dealing with a serious illness, and not being able to “fix” things for them, but this last section really hit home for me in so many situations:
Choosing inaction is an action. And it can be hard and brave because inaction will not let us look heroic. Sometimes our best power is the realization that what makes us useful is just sitting there.
Silence. Waiting. Watching. Companionship.
My wife and I were just talking last weekend with a friend about well-meaning people who simply had no idea what to do after we lost our parents. There’s no heroic action to take, there’s no “fixing” it, there’s just nothing that is going to make this situation better in one fell swoop.
And that seems to paralyze a lot of people, who would like to “do something”, when there’s nothing to do but sit with us, mourn with us, and listen to us.
No, they don’t make Marvel movies about the people who can do that, but I can tell you this. Over this past year I have come to view the people who could do that for us as our personal heroes, and people we are eternally grateful for.
Yes, the ones who knew enough to do the hard thing by doing nothing. The most powerful thing they could have done.
If you have someone in your life dealing with physical or mental health issues, mourning a loss, or any other painful thing that life has brought them, you’d do well to remember that not being able to fix it, doesn’t mean you are useless.