How do you answer that question?
As a coach I know the power of questions but this was the first time in my life I have given the below question so much thought. This feels like a bit of a risky post but I deeply hope it will make a difference for those experiencing a great crisis and those who want to help. "Ok so I have a friend that her father died suddenly on Tuesday, do you know how hard it is to not ask "how are you?" Now I'm paranoid. "
This is a text I received from a girlfriend after I shared with her how challenging it was for me when someone texted, messaged, emailed or called and asked me the question "how are you?" Most times I wanted to respond how do you think I am? Someone I deeply loved died suddenly, my son does not have his dad, my life is turned upside down and I am scared and overwhelmed by all that it entails to be a single mom.
When you feel all those emotions and more (see graph below) how does one answer that question??? But I always paused and took a deep breath before I responded as I know the question was coming from love, sincerity and a place of care.
I share this post today as it brought up so much emotion for me that I felt that it may be a sign that it could make a difference for others. I think one of the hardest things in life besides being the one who experienced loss is how to be with or support someone you care about who is in great pain. I know I have been there and never felt sure the best way to be let the person know I am here for them. Being on the other side now I wanted to share what has worked for me. Instead of "how are you?" a slightly different version.
How are you today? How are you in this moment? What are you dealing with or experiencing today? Or simply, "I am thinking about you I don't know what to say but want to let you know I care and here when you need me." Most times we don't know what to say when someone is in great pain but I know I feel better when someone says the above vs. saying nothing at all. When someone you care about just experienced a major life crisis be mindful of your questions. We all care, we all want to make a difference.
May we think twice before we ask the question "how are you?"