Have you ever been listening to someone share their heart and tears start to come to their eyes? What do you do?
Let them cry. Let them have their feelings. Crying is healthy.
You can listen empathetically and acknowledge their pain without feeling the need to “fix it” or make the situation “all better.”
On Mother’s Day, after the church service, I turned to a friend of mine whose baby died the day after he was born. She’d never had another one and still longed for a baby.
It had years since the baby died but I wondered if Mother’s Day would be a painful reminder of her lack of the children she desired. I asked her, “How are you doing?” She looked at me and tears started to roll.
She reached up to wipe them, “I’m sorry. I thought I’d already dealt with all of this.”
I reassured her, “It’s okay. Let yourself cry. I know this is sad for you.”
Tears continued to flow. I stood there without saying anything because I knew she needed to cry.
Finally, my friend said, “Thank you for thinking of me and your concern. I didn’t realize there was still a tender spot there.”
My daughter made this simple but profound observation to me one time when we discussed the need to cry. “Tears wash away the pain.”
Letting someone express their feelings is the healthy way to respond. When we do this, we allow the person to process their pain. The worse thing you can say is “Don’t cry” or in some other way, stop them by giving them a hug or changing the subject because you feel uncomfortable. You will cut off the process. They need to express the sadness they feel. Read my earlier post on 7 Tips for Listening and Talking Together for more insights on how to listen effectively.
We give each other an awesome gift when we simply allow the expression of their feelings and acknowledged them.
“…weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15b (NKJV)