to someone you love
Hello my dear,
I am so sorry that someone you love is going through a difficult time. We’ve made this resource page with you in mind. I hope that these videos, podcast episodes, and blessings will help you walk alongside your loved one and to help make these hard moments soft.
Bless you, Kate
A Blessing When You Realize Everyone Is Struggling
Blessed are you who have realized
that life is hard.
And it’s hard for everyone.
Your awareness came at a cost.
You lost something you can’t get back.
You were diagnosed with chronic pain or degenerative disease.
Your family fell apart and things have never been the same.
Blessed are you who gave up the myth
that the good life is one of happiness, success, perfection.
The life that looks beautiful on Instagram,
—but isn’t real.
You who realize it is okay to not be okay.
To not have a shiny life because no one does.
Blessed are you who see things clearly,
where struggle is everyone’s normal.
You walk among the fellowship of the afflicted,
a club no one wants to join.
And while this life isn’t shiny,
it does come with superpowers.
Superpowers of ever-widening empathy
and existential courage that gets you back up after another fall
and a deepened awe at the beauty and love that can be found amid life’s rubble.
Like flowers that grow from the cracks in the sidewalk.
These virtues blossom in you.
And thank God for you.
Blessed are all of us who struggle,
for we are in good company,
and we’ll never walk alone.
“You can’t affect change, but you can witness it. You can’t change the outcome, but you can sit with someone while they’re going on their journey and just say, I see you and I’m here with you. And I know you’re suffering and if you’re suffering because you’ve had another horrible botched surgery or you’re suffering because school boys chase you down the street in Glasgow barking at you like a dog at two o’clock in the morning or you’re suffering because you’re shooting up and you’re alone. I just want to be there. I can’t change it, and I can’t stop it. But I can be there. That’s it.”
– Ann Patchett on loving her friend Lucy who died of drug addiction from her conversation with Kate Bowler
3 Responses to Pain (And Why They Aren’t Very Helpful)
What does the suffering person really want? How can you navigate the waters left churning in the wake of tragedy? I find that the people least likely to know the answer to these questions can be lumped into three categories: minimizers, teachers and solvers.
What to say and what not to say
There’s not enough language for being right alongside pain. For what to say and not to say (trust me, I’ve said them all too.) But maybe we need to speak less and just be present, regardless of whether we have the right words.
Here is an interview I did for The Atlantic on How to Speak to Someone Who’s Suffering:
- Each person’s pain is uniquely their own. Don’t bring up your aunt with cancer or your friend who also went through a bad, but unrelated, situation.
- Don’t Google someone’s symptoms or suggest a bunch of solutions unless the person actively seeks your help.
- Please don’t imply that someone’s suffering is at all part of God’s master plan or a direct result of a choice that person made. The cruelty of life can be random. Often, it’s just bad luck.
The Lives We Actually Have
100 Blessings for Imperfect Days
Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie, authors of the instant New York Times bestseller Good Enough, reveal how every day is worth blessing—even Tuesdays. In a world that demands relentless perfection, Bowler and Richie offer creative, faith-based blessings that center gratitude and hope without making light of our real, messy lives. Formatted like a prayer book, The Lives We Actually Have is an oasis and a landing spot for weary souls, with blessings that center on various moods, including Bless This Ordinary Day, Bless This Lovely Day, Bless This Mournful Day, and more. These heartfelt blessings are a sanctuary for the grieving, the hopeful, the restless, the careworn, and anyone who needs a chance to exhale in a chaotic world.
For when knowing what to say is hard
There’s no good card for that with Emily McDowell
Why is it so hard to say the right thing to those going through difficult circumstances? Artist Emily McDowell has been on the receiving end of some terrible responses after her own diagnosis. Now, she creates kind and irreverent greeting cards that teach us all how to be a little more human. She speaks with Kate about the best and worst things to say and do when our loved ones are hurting.
For when you need the reminder you are loved and chosen
Loved and Chosen with Anne Lamott
When we need the kinds of truths we can stand on, I turn to writers like Anne Lamott. Listen to a conversation I had with Anne where we talk about the good, strong hopes we can reach for and how friendships and snacks hold us together when we’re feeling lost.
For when you need to be reminded of the support of the community
Being Church on our Worst Days with Liz Tichenor
Liz Tichenor is a priest and writer, who knows the power of those who sit with you in the ashes. Liz lost her mom and her baby in the same year. Brand new to leading a church and reeling from the grief, the pain was enough to break her. But it didn’t—because other people carried her through.
For when you need help responding to someone’s hard news
Hard Topics, Softer Conversations with Anna Sale
Our culture seems convinced that going off-script is unbecoming. Instead, we are rewarded for being buttoned up, perfect (or at least appearing to be), and never ever no-matter-what admit weakness. But… don’t we need each other, especially when facing the most difficult moments? This conversation will teach you how to approach those difficult conversations.