Strong healthy connections to other humans are essential for our mental and emotional wellbeing.
When I wanted to write about how we as women create and call upon those connections with each other in our most trying times I put out a call to several friends who have been though a life altering hardship. Some, like myself have lost their child, others have faced abuse, rejection, addition, and more. I asked them to tell me of something another women said to them that helped them when they were going through a difficult situation. I had responses across the board.
One fellow mother of loss told me that a friend of hers told her, “You did it. You made it.” She found those simple words of acknowledgement encouraging in a way that empowered her to keep going in the midst of her grief and despair.
A friend mused at how her mom always encouraged her to “Stop and take a deep breath”, something she still practices to this day, and now encourages her own daughter to do as well. As she says, “It’s something we already do naturally without thinking about it, but sometimes we forget to take a mentally clarifying deep breath. In those few seconds we create that mental clarity again and find peace.”
One woman who had previously lost her daughter was with her mother as she was sedated in preparation for surgery. Though they expected her to fully recover, her mother looked at her and said “I’ll look after [your daughter] for you.” As she explains, it wasn’t a comfort at the time, but twelve hours later when they took her mother off of life support, and ever since, she has clung to the gift of those last words she ever heard her mother speak.
“Not from a woman, but from my dad,” another friend explained, “told me ‘decide who you want to be, and then make your choices to grow into that person’.”
When feeling the world spinning out of her control, yet again, another friend told me that this bit of encouragement was given to her, “Despite everything that has happened to you, from the past to the present, you have found a way to survive and to carry yourself with grace. Trust in God, He knows what He is doing, even if you don’t,” and then concluded by adding, “Lil’ Miss Have-to-Have-Control-All-the-Time” to punctuate her statement.
These messages were so inspiring. So connective and encouraging. So comforting. To be able to look to a friend or family member for guidance, and to find that support in a dark hour is simply invaluable. What I wasn’t prepared for, on the other hand was to receive this answer; from more than one of my friends:
No one has helped my in my times of trial
What?! How can that be, I wondered. How awful, I thought. How, unjust! These women, facing the most dire of circumstances, including among those who provided this response, child loss and sexual abuse at the hands of a family member were forced to travel their road alone. Difficult circumstances can lead even the strongest among us to feel lonely, isolated, incapacitated, discouraged, or worthless. When you take an already unimaginable situation and remove all the necessary support structure how could you expect them to withstand the pressure?
We MUST support each other. Reach out. Ask for help. Be there to help. Don’t wait to find out what you can do; offer something. Anything. Just do it. My heart hurts for these women who told me, “To be honest, I can’t think of anything from my hard times that another woman has said that was encouraging to me”, and “Sadly, I’ve never had any support from any woman during my troubling times. I’ve been traveling a very lonely road since I was five years old.”
We must rise to support each other. No human should have to move through the trials and tribulations of life alone, isolated, involuntarily disconnected from the world around them; from their family, their church, their community. We are all each other’s neighbor. Someone you know needs you. They need you right now. Let them know you won’t turn your head away. Share with them a message of hope.
Join us at the first Rise Women’s workshop this September
in Richland WA, where we’ll laugh, cry, write, paint, do a
little yoga, drink a little wine, and lift each other up.