Do No Harm

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trail and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. Helen Keller

It breaks my heart to read the posts of women in motherless daughters’ groups telling a woman who is in despair over having just lost her mother that “it doesn’t get any better.” I shout out at my computer screen, “For Heaven’s sake, give the poor grieving woman some hope!” Most of us, if we’re over forty, have suffered at least one significant loss. If all of us never recovered, we would all be walking around like the Zombies we were that first week.

Even Helen Keller, with no sight, hearing or voice, offered a message of hope for those who are suffering and in distress. I believe it’s important to acknowledge a person’s grief, be with her in the reality of the moment, offer no platitudes like “she’s better off now” or “you’ll be fine.” Saying nothing is always good. Your presence is what matters. Reminisce with her about her loved one. But please, please, don’t take away hope for her future. Hope may be the only thread attaching her to this Earth—sometimes, literally.

Affirmation: I will be a healer and do no harm.  

Coaching questions: What helped you most in times of despair? What words or presence brought you the most comfort? How do you show up for your friends and family in times of distress?


Shining a Light On Suicide

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for all Americans. More than 45,000 people took their own lives in 2016 in the U.S.—more than twice the number of homicides. Among people ages 15 to 34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death. Center Disease Control

Suicide remains a taboo subject. Just as cancer rose out of secrecy to public focus, so must suicide. To be clear, the suicide rate does not increase during the holidays as often reported but it is a time when families gather and discussions can happen. 

If you have a friend or relative who is in deep distress, make a personal connection with them. Don’t be afraid to ask if they are thinking about suicide. Ask them to talk about what they are going through and what brought them to considering suicide. Paraphrase their answers back to them so they know you’re listening. You can’t fix another person but you can help them get through the moment.

Affirmation: I can help another.

Coaching question/request: How would you speak with a person who you suspect is in deep distress or contemplating suicide? If you are thinking of suicide, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 now.