“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.“
~ Mark Twain
Small acts of kindness ease our burdens. They remind us that we are loved and that there is still hope and goodness in the world.
Don’t ever underestimate the gift of small acts of kindness. A simple phone call, a cuppa and a chat, a bunch of flowers from your garden, a casserole or a pot of soup, the loan of some books or DVDs – all of these simple gestures can make a vast difference in the life of someone who is busy coping with whatever life has just thrown them.
Anyone who has suffered from depression, ongoing family or relationship issues, the prolonged care of a loved one with a chronic or terminal illness, or who has suffered a loss or setback in life will tell you that support is often strong to start off with, but fades away, or worse – people begin to tell them to ‘think positive’, to ‘look on the bright side’, to ‘snap out of it’, ‘get over it’, ‘move on’ or equally unhelpful sentiments.
Some situations in life are over in an instant but leave a lasting impact. Some situations take a very long time to resolve. And we all manage grief and loss in our own way. (Side note – It’s actually okay to let people who are in the midst of misery express grief, be sad, feel flat or lost, and be anything but the life of the party.)
So how do we help when difficulties are drawn out for our friends and loved ones? Think about the times in your own life when things have been hard. What made a difference to you? Firstly, don’t judge your friends and loved ones, and don’t feel you have to fix anything or take responsibility for changing them or their situation.
Ask them how they’re going. Ask them what they need. Sometimes we need to talk things through, sometimes we need to talk about ANYTHING other than what’s really happening, sometimes we want to be left alone. And our needs might change from moment to moment, hour to hour.
The best advice here is to stay in contact, and then ask the simple questions:
‘How are you?’ or ‘Are you okay?’
‘Is there anything I can do to help?’
If you can see an obvious need, don’t be afraid to ask and then step in. Or if it’s appropriate, just go ahead and do it – hose the garden, mow the lawn, bake the cake, mind the kids, take the washing off the line, bundle up a care parcel.
Sometimes all that’s needed is a hug or a kind word.
When I was ill recently, a dear friend brought me homemade chicken soup, and another loaned me a book. It was the difference between me eating something healthy and going without, and I had soul food in the form of something new to read. Heaven.
Yesterday, after a difficult day, I went to my front door and found a posy of flowers and a tender note filled with love and encouragement. It brightened my spirits immeasurably. Friends texted me to check in on me. I felt loved, affirmed and connected.
It’s these small acts of thoughtfulness, these simple gestures of kindness that ease the way for us when life’s road gets hard.
How can you be a friend today?
Much love, Nicole ❤ xx