I used to read Ann Lander's advice column all the time when I was growing up. I think her common sense wisdom shaped a lot of my thinking. One time, a young widow wrote to Ann complaining that people at her husband's funeral said "terrible" things like, "At least his suffering is over," and "Time heals," and even “You are still young, you can marry again." Ann's gentle advice? Forget their words and appreciate their actions. Those people were simply doing the best they could in an unimaginable situation. The thing to remember was that they were there…they took time out of their day, maybe even a day off of work to show their respect, love, and support.
I often hear people with chronic illness like interstitial cystitis complaining much the same as that widow who wrote to Ann Landers. Here is my point. People’s words may not always be perfect, but who among us can come up with the exact words appropriate for every situation? This story helps me remember that 99.9% of the people we meet are not malicious, mean, deceitful, or out to “get” us. People who go to funerals, who ask about us when we are sick, or who say something "terrible" rarely do so with bad intentions. On the contrary, they are doing their best to show they care. For us to assume that everyone can read our minds and know exactly what we need to hear at the exact moment we need to hear it is arrogant and maybe even narcissistic.
If only for today, let's cut the people in our life a little slack. Life is short. Situations are complicated. There are no right or wrong words. Accept love with a spirit of humility, and don’t read too much into people’s inadequacy to express themselves. Modify your expectations and appreciate other peoples’ intentions and good hearts.
Oh.......and pray that when you say something that accidentally hurts another person, because you will, that the other party receives your words with an equally gentle and understanding heart.