Don’t take advice from just anyone


It fascinates me how many people offer advice on things they know nothing about.  This is just a general observation – it’s not a poke or jab at my family and friends, Lord knows they know me too well when it comes to stuff like this.  This is about people in general. It’s a reflection on that line that everyone hears when they have something monumental happen in their life  —  ‘I know what you are going through.’  It’s a statement that is usually followed by advice of some sort.

I am not averse to advice, it is part of everyday conversation, and in normal circumstances it is taken with a pinch of salt. After something monumental, it’s not normal circumstances, and frankly, in my case, I wanted it all to just go away. All the decisions and problems and the mess I called life. I didn’t want advice – I wanted a miracle.

Truly I don’t think anyone ever really knows what someone else is going through.  So the advice, although well meaning, can be quite frustrating for a variety of reasons – you’re not ready to “move on,” you don’t have the capacity to “get back out there.”  You finding yourself feeling like a failure because you figure the advice was good, and that’s what other people do, so why-can’t-I? sort of thing.

I work in a place where, as of late, a fair number of my co-workers are experiencing  the death of a spouse.  More than once I have been approached by people I know asking if I could meet someone that I don’t know but who works somewhere in the building (and it’s a big building), who like me, is dealing with loss.  I will never say no, of course I will meet them if that’s what they want, but I also am unlikely to offer any advice to those I meet.  How can I?  I have no idea of their circumstances, what sorrows they carry secretly, what was said, or what was left unsaid.

What I will do is just listen, and maybe cry with them, hopefully find something to talk about.  I will give them the type of support I valued throughout my grieving process.  Family and friends carried me for the first while, and I can’t qualify that by saying ‘little while’ because it wasn’t.  They didn’t advise me, they assisted me, and they still do.  And, when I was ready, it was the confidence of that support that helped me make my own decisions based on my own circumstances.

This is my learning:  we have to find our own way, but it’s okay to take a hand to help you on your way.  And if you are really floundering, see a professional.

Any thoughts or experiences to share? Leave them here.

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