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3 Ways to Support Your Loved Ones Through Tragedies

3 Ways to Support Your Loved Ones Through Tragedies

Life, like the ocean, is versatile. It is ever-changing and unpredictable – we might be amazed in a moment for its tranquility and peace, but intimidated the moment after for its storms and tantrums. It is from such unpredictability of life which gives us the capability to stay strong in the midst of adversity, and be sympathetic to the ones around you who are hit and overwhelmed by a tragedy because in a way, we feel that we understand each other.

Yet, it is often that this feeling of sympathy – or empathy – comes and goes. We care about the person who was affected by the tragedy, but we are unsure of how we are able to offer them our support without offending them. In the end, aside from saying “I’m sorry for your loss”, we have done little to make our friends, or family feel better. This brings us to the question: how can we sympathize and support our loved ones through tragic events?

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1. Listen to their stories.

Before anything – we need to sit down and listen to what they have to say because it is their stories instead of ours. By simply listening to their perspectives, stories and memories, we are giving them space and time to grieve, and gradually pick up the courage to stand up once again. We seem to be bounded by the idea that people who were wounded by a tragic event require our counselling and advice. Yet, more often than not, our advice sounds scathing, unhelpful and downright disrespectful. Our desire to help has sometimes, unknowingly and unconsciously, caused more pain to the victims instead of being truly helpful. If we really wish to be of any assistance, we must first disregard our opinions, hold back our comments, and lend them our shoulders and our ears. After all, it is them – and only them who could pick themselves up, recover, and grow even stronger than before. 

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2. Understand that there are more than tangible ways to contribute.

Sending a large bouquet of flowers is one way of showing your care. But it is equally, if not more meaningful to drive up to their house, give them a warm hug and really listen to them. Offering to help pick up the kids from school, or bringing some food over so they would not have to worry about making dinner are also good alternatives. We need to understand that both physical and mental support is crucial to the victims of tragedies – letting them know that they have the world behind them as they fall, grieving, and praying for them and their family would already make a huge difference.

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3. Accept that you could not care about everything about everyone.

It is important to note that above all, we are still humans. There is only so much we could care – before we crack. Diluting our empathy a thousandfold so we can listen to, understand, and grieve for everything that happens to every single person around us would only wear us down eventually, rendering us exhausted and wary. How can you inspire hope in others when you extinguish the one inside yourself? In the end, there are times when we could only let our loved ones be, and allow them to take care of themselves and move on.

The amount of sorrows in the world could be truly suffocating sometimes; but it is only in darkness when you see the brightest light, when the support from friends, family members and the community gives out the warmest glow. Simply be present as your loved ones fight through adversity, and you will be surprised at how much better they will fare.

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Eamon Suen

Student, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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