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When I Ask You to Listen

When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving advice,
you have not done what I asked

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem,
you have failed me - - strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I asked was that you listen,
Not talk or do -- just hear me.

Advice is cheap: 50 cents will get you both
Dear Abby and Billy Graham
in the same newspaper.

When you do something for me
that I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.

But when you accept as a simple fact
that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational,
then I can quit trying to convince you
and can get about the business of understanding
what's behind this irrational feeling.
And when that's clear, the answers are obvious
and I don't need advice.

Irrational feelings make sense when we understand
what's behind them.

Perhaps that's why prayer works, sometimes, for some people --
because God is mute and doesn't give advice
or try to fix things. God just listens
and lets you work it out for yourself.

So please listen and just hear me.
And, if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn,
and I'll listen to you.

Adapted from a poem by Ralph Roughton, M.D.

Give A Loved One the Gift of Listening

     "Does anybody hear me?"
     This is, perhaps, the most desperate cry for help that we will ever utter. This lonely plea to be emotionally touched by another human being comes from the essence of our humanness.
     We are a people who are not complete until we have been reflected on the caring heart of another person.
     It seems as though there is no suffering beyond our endurance, and no condition with which we cannot cope, as long as our anguish can be expressed to another, and heard.
     Telling someone, either verbally or non-verbally, that we are feeling hurt, sad, depressed, angry, or otherwise wounded, puts our emotion out where we can better deal with it. Having that emotion mirrored back to us by a person who has heard it, gives us an even better grasp of it. Even more, as our emotion is heard and acknowledged by another, we feel as though we are significant enough in life to be heard, and cared for enough by another to be taken seriously.
     Can anyone bestow on us greater gifts than a listening ear and a responding heart?
     Listening means so much more than the registration of sounds or the processing of words through the mind. It means opening ourselves up to another person in such a way that he or she is what matters most at that moment.
     Listening means letting go of our own noises and distractions, if only briefly, to really hear what the other person is saying to us. It means not getting stuck on the definition of the words used, but instead going beyond the words to the feelings they are attempting to express.
     Listening means hearing not only what emanates from the mouth of another person, but also the silent language of the body and the gestures of the face. It means noting the intonations of the voice and identifying the hidden messages that are sometimes veiled in jest or feigned disinterest.
     Listening means that we love another person enough to be present to him or her at that time. It means we are willing to pay attention to focus, to stay alert to what he or she is daring to share with us.
     Just as we are watching the body language of the one of whom we are listening, he or she is also watching us. It is important, therefore, that our body language be one that conveys interest, availability, and concern.
     Listening with our body means that we keep good eye contact with the other person. It means that we drop what we are doing and face him or her directly.
     To really be there for another through listening we need to do more than listen. We need to let it be known that we have heard him or her.
     We respond to another by letting him or her know what we have heard. It's all right to be off target because we will be corrected.
     We reflect what we pick up from the person's verbal or non-verbal expressions and this lets the other person know that contact has been made.
     The gift of listening is an acknowledgement of where a person happens to be at a given time. It does not include giving advice or solving problems. It does not take away pain or suffering, although pain and suffering seem to diminish some when expressed and heard.
     How do we go about giving the gift of listening? One way to not do it is by asking questions. We can, however, make an observation and follow it up with an invitation. For example, "You seem down (so sad). Do you want to talk about it?"
     If the answer is yes, find a place where you won't be disturbed. It the answer is no, just tell him or her that you care and will remain available to listen.
     All the love in the world will not eliminate the suffering that abounds around us, but through the caring and listening that comes of love, we can be there form one another through the suffering.
     "... Listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping." (Psalm 39:12 NIV)

Adolfo Quezada, M.A., M.Ed., Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, AZ, Saturday, February 21, 1987

Please, See Me Through My Tears

You asked, "How are you doing?"
As I told you, tears came to my eyes ... and you looked away and quickly began to talk again.
All the attention you had given me drained away.
"How am I doing?" ... I do better when people listen, though I may shed a tear or two.
This pain is indescribable. If you've never know it you cannot fully understand.
Yet I need you.
When you look away
When I'm ignored,
I am again alone with it.

Your attention means more than you can ever know.
Really, tears are not a bad sign, you know!
They're nature's way of helping me to heal ...
They relieve some of the stress of sadness.
I know you fear that asking how I'm doing brings me sadness
... but you're wrong.
The memory of my loved one's death will always be with me,
Only a thought away.
My tears make my pain more visible to you,
But you did not give me the pain ... it was already there.
When I cry, could it be that you feel helpless, not knowing what to do?
You've helped me.
You need not speak. Your silence as I cry is all I need.
Be patient ... do not fear.
Listening with your heart to "how I am doing" relieves the pain,
for when the tears can freely come and go, I feel lighter.
Talking to you releases what I've been wanting to say aloud, clearing space
for a touch of joy in my life.
I'll cry for a minute or two ...
and then I'll wipe my eyes,
and sometimes you'll even find I'm laughing later.
When I hold back the tears, my throat grows tight,
my chest aches, my stomach knots ...
because I'm trying to protect you from my tears.
Then we both hurt ... me, because my pain is held inside,
a shield against our closeness ... and you,
because suddenly we're distant.
So please, take my hand and see me through my tears ...
then we can be close again.

Kelly Osmont, MSQ, for her son, Aaron Osmont, /14/62 - 4/16/82. Parting is Not Goodbye, Nobility Press, P.O. Box 17603, Portland, OR 97217

Normal Reactions to Significant Losses



Self Reproach
Out of Control

Physical Sensations
Hollowness in stomach
Tightness in chest
Over-sensitivity to noise
"nothing seems real"
Lack of energy

Tightness in throat

Weakness in muscles
Dry mouth
Weight gain or loss

Inability to concentrate
Inability to make decisions
Dread & fear of another death
Suicide - life has no meaning anymore


Sense of presence of deceased

Preoccupation or obsessive thinking about the deceased


Increase in illness - accidents
Dreaming of lost object/person
Change in personal hygiene
Change in work/school performance
Increased alcohol/drug/nicotine intake
Avoidance of reminders of lost person/object
Visiting place or carrying things that are remembrances of lost object/person
Reading obituaries
Treasuring objects that belonged to the deceased
Talking to the deceased or to pictures/ashes/grave
Sleep disturbances
Appetite disturbances

Absent-minded behavior

Restless overactivity
Searching for - calling out for deceased
Social withdrawal

Spiritual Collections

Gone from My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?" Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side. She is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!" There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: "Here she comes!"

And that is dying

-- Anonymous
The Steps of Life

Dying is another step of life. I have only come through an open door into an adjoining room. I am I, and you are you, and the good life that we shared together is untouched. The love that we felt for each other I still feel, and so do you. So speak of me in the easy way you always have. Don't change your tone, or put on an air of sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we shared. Play, smile, think of me, and thank God for me, as I do for you. Continue to speak my name without a ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant. There is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind just because I am out of sight? Remember, I am waiting for you.

-- Anonymous
On Loan

Only for a short time have you loaned us to each other,
Because you take form in your act of drawing us,
and we take life in your painting us,
and we breathe in your singing us.

But only for a short time have you loaned us to each other.
Because even a drawing cut in crystalline obsidian fades,
and even the green feathers of the Quetzal bird lose their color,
and even the sounds of the waterfall die out in the dry season.

So, we too, because only for a short time have you loaned us to each other.

-- Aztec Prayer
I Am Not There

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
   I am not there; I do not sleep.
   I am a thousand winds that blow.
   I am a diamond glint on snow.
   I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
   I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush;
   I am the swift uplifting rush
   of quiet birds in circling flight.
   I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
   I am not there; I do not sleep.

-- Anonymous

I'm Free

Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free
I'm following the path God laid for me.
I took God's hand when I heard God's call
I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day
to laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way
I found that peace at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss;
Oh yes, these things I too will miss.

Be not burdened with time of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow
My life's been full, I savored much
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, God set me free.

-- Anonymous
Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm on your face,
May the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.