Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant discuss how challenging it can be to comfort someone who has experienced loss or hardship. This video offers simple ways to speak with empathy and honesty when our friends are suffering.
- Around the world people have a really hard time talking about adversity. Somebody has lost a spouse or has been diagnosed with cancer and nobody says a word about it. It's like there's an elephant in the room. - When I saw someone two weeks after Dave died or even two months and they didn't acknowledge it at all, I felt totally invisible, I felt like they didn't get it at all and I felt really alone and I know that just like I had done when I was on the other side they just didn't know what to say so they didn't say anything at all.
- Psychologists years ago came up with a term for this, they called it the Mum Effect knowing that nobody likes to pass along bad news. Some people are afraid that the messenger will be shot but in other cases it's just as likely that people they don't want to remind others of something painful. One way that people are able to overcome the Mum Effect is to open up, to say hey, this is what I'm going through.
- I felt increasingly alone and increasingly isolated and so, I started what I would say if I would say something to people to try to acknowledge the elephant, say something and I wrote this in what would be a Facebook post. I wrote in the post don't ask me how I am, how are you feels really insensitive even though it's said with the best of intentions, how are you? Okay, my husband just died. How am I? Really? Instead how are you today? How are you today is a shorthand way of saying I know you're suffering, I'm acknowledging your pain but I want to know how you're getting through it today.
So, people everywhere I went started asking me how are you today? And it became a really shorthand way of expressing empathy that has really helped me.
For additional resources and support, check out OptionB.Org, a nonprofit initiative dedicated to helping individuals build resilience in the face of adversity.