How often do we get angry at those who tell us things we don’t want to hear?
We don’t think about the truth or falsehood of what they are saying. We just think about whether we like or don’t like what they said or how they said it!
Granted, I don’t like hearing bad news. I especially don’t like hearing it delivered rudely…or unkindly!
But when we get down to it, truth is truth.
No matter how nicely you say it, it is difficult to dress up some kinds of bad news.
Think about the news that you are bankrupt. How do you tell that to a person in a way that doesn’t make them feel bad?
There is no way to tell them unless you are going to tell them you plan to pay off all their debts! Most of us can’t do that.
So whether you say it kindly which would be nice, or unkindly, which will make the news harder to take, the heart of the news is that the person is facing a huge lifestyle change. They have many difficult days, probably years, ahead of them!
The same goes for news of cancer, terminal cancer.
There is no way to deliver that news in a way that is palatable!
Most doctors try to give a glimmer of hope in even the most hopeless situation, but the bottom line is that the patient is going to die and needs to get their affairs in order sooner rather than later! STOP.
Being the messenger of this type of news is no fun. Some people harden themselves to the pain of the news they must give and blurt out the words as kindly as they can and as calmly as they can, knowing that the words have started an emotional storm inside the person’s brain that has stopped them from hearing more than “blah, blah, blah” from the messenger.
Even words of comfort that a kind messenger tries to pass along frequently are only heard as “blah, blah, blah”. The person has gone into shock, or nearly so. They aren’t hearing or thinking. Their brain has gone into overdrive…or else it has gone into denial mode and is just stuck. It isn’t processing much at all!
We, as messengers who often must bring bad news to people, need to remember the effect it has on them. As kind as we try to be, they usually aren’t hearing our kind words…or even the kind intentions behind them.
Later, as the bad news of a death, severe illness, major lifestyle change (in the wrong direction) starts to sink in, as they start to process this horrid news, then we can begin to help them.
- Usually by allowing them to process aloud what they are thinking or feeling.
- By giving them breaks from their overwhelming burden to smile or laugh or be distracted.
- By coming alongside them to help as they work at solving the issues they must deal with.
- By fixing food or meeting other mundane needs of theirs or their family.
- By loving on them…whatever that means to them uniquely.
- By praying with them or offering words of comfort from Scripture...often in writing…so they can process it on their own.
May GOD help us as we learn to comfort those who have received horrible news.
May we learn to comfort in ways that the person needs instead of the ways we have been comforted in the past. The needs of each person are unique. Learn to study what the individual needs, not what you have been told they should need.
May He help us to listen and love…not preach.