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Who knows best? Sunday June 19, 2016

A friend's husband died several years ago. She is not feeling any different now than she was when he died. She has trouble listening to the news, driving, eating and going to places she used to go with her husband. A few months ago when I found out she was going to the cemetery every month as well as birthdays and anniversaries, I commented that it may be too often.

She looked at me with disbelief, "I don't go once a month I go once a day."

I was speechless. I felt she was undermining herself and would find it hard cope with her daily life. Then I thought who was I to give advice to tell her how to behave. I am not a grief counsellor, yet I felt I knew what was best for her. I wanted to help her but why was I sure my way was the right way. Is there a proper way to grieve?

I also know what it is like to receive advice from a friend who feels they know best and how uncomfortable it made me feel.

I was once in a relationship with a man that none of my friends and family liked. It was a chaotic relationship that I would probably leave one day. One friend in particular would ask every time we met "Have you left him yet?" She would also comment and advise me why I should leave him every time we spoke.

One day I told my friend that while I appreciated her concern, it was my decision and her continual comments stressed me. She had to accept I was doing what I could cope with in my own time.

I eventually did leave my partner but all the 'helpful advice" I was given I saw as negativity and possibly stubbornly stayed longer in the relationship than I should have. I know my friend was convinced she was right but the timing was not right and her continual negative comments put so much pressure on me.

It is hard when we see a friend or loved one making what we consider is a bad decision or not doing anything, that we feel we must impart our knowledge to them. At times this maybe appropriate but at other times it may be harmful.

Why do we sometimes feel we know what is best for someone? Are we confusing our opinions with facts? Sometimes people are so focused on being right and knowing what is best for another person, they lose sight of what the other person needs.

Is there a right way to approach a problem? Or should we be more flexible in our approaches and recognise that there maybe more than way to help someone.

Leah
A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


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Comments

Hopeful One Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 6:50am

Hi Leah - your blog brought into focus a common dilemma . Indeed these were the thoughts going through my mind yesterday as I wrote a comment on The Gardner's time line. They say " Never give advice- the wise don't need it and fools won't heed it" . I try not to , unless asked , and I am prepared to respect that person 's autonomy 100% to make their own decision.

The Joke Squadron came across the Rag megazine apparently published " to give students, ex- students and the unemployed, the opportunity to earn money by the selling of it' .It had some great laughs many unrepeatable . However the Squadron thought this one could pass muster.

" A man is sitting at a bar enjoying a cocktail when an exceptionally gorgeous, sexy, young woman enters. The man can't stop staring at her. The young woman notices this and walks directly towards him. Before he can offer his apologies for being so rude the young woman says to him " I'll do anything you want me to do no matter how kinky, for £100, with one condition " .Flabbergasted the man asks what the condition is. The young woman replies " You have to tell you me what you wan me go do I. Just thee words. The man considers her proposition for a moment withdraws his wallet from his pocket and hands the woman five £20 bills. He looks deeply into her eyes and slowly says " Paint my house"

With thanks to the Rag megazine.

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 10:30am

Hi Hopeful One, Your joke made me smile. I like that saying"never give advice-the wise don't need it and foold won't heed it." Thanks for your contributions they are much appreciated.

Eva Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 7:50am

Hi Leah, with reference to grief, the reading I have done for myself and my family suggest that if you are feeling stuck with no improvements after 1 year then you can go and seek grief counselling. Prior to that you generally won't be seen as you need to work through the grief process, you can't shortcut it with counselling. I am in counselling now a year and a bit on from losing my dad, and 2 years on from previous family bereavements and it's helping me tremendously. I am choosing do to this privately as I am fortunate enough to have some savings, I suppose it might be available on the NHS in the UK.

I had an experience in the past with a friend who cried on my shoulder every week for a year about how awful her partner was, she asked what she should do, I said leave every time, but she wouldn't because he owed her a few hundred pounds and she couldn't condone the idea of him not paying her back. So I totally get that some advice sought or unsought is not necessarily going to be followed. In fact I think that's it, you can give your advice from your perspective, but don't expect it to be taken. It's up to the person what they do with it.

Maybe you could suggest to your friend that bereavement counselling might help and leave it at that?

I really like your blogs, the way you lay out a scenario and possit discussion, go you Leah!

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 10:34am

Eva, Thanks for your kind words. My friend has been having bereavement counselling for years. Your comments really help me.

Anonymous Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 7:52am

Hi Leah your post struck a chord with me on many levels

I lost my partner 3 years ago and when we first got together many of my friends were full of advice that he was not right for me, mainly because he had long spells of depression. I know that we're trying to look out for me but we had 12 amazing years together and I hope I made a difference to his life.

Advice in bereavement is an interesting one, I have one friend who regularly kicks by butt and doesn't allow me to wallow. Other friends have learned that being kind to me is likely to induce tears. Another friend lives his life in a bubble of fake positivity, and initially I tried to adopt his approach (if you fake it you might make it) and outwardly was doing a good job of appearing strong and coping but whenever I spoke to him all of the dark thoughts surfaced and I ended up deeper down my black hole. We recently fell out, and whilst I regret the loss of him as a friend I feel better than I have in years, as I've realised there are no right answers I just have to do it my way and forgiive myself when I need to just hide under the duvet and cry - today might be one of those days.

I do take on board my friends advice but sometimes I need time to process it, sometimes I fight against it but deep down I know it is coming from a place of love not judgement, and I wouldn't be here without them

Jan

Bearofliddlebrain Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 8:14am

Hi Jan, I think that's the biggest difference you have found and hit the proverbial nail on the head...'I know it is coming from a place of love, not judgement.' Good friends to have by your side when you need them. Bear x

Anonymous Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 8:44am

Thank you Bear, today you are the friend who has made me realise that hiding under the duvet today would be a waste of the sunshine x

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 10:40am

Jan, Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful comment. I found it most helpful. I also like "I know it is coming from a place of love not judgement." I also found your words"I've realised there are no right answers I just have to do it my way and forgive myself" . Jan you are learning a lot and sharing it here will be helpful to others.

Bearofliddlebrain Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 5:20pm

Hiya Jan, hope you enjoyed the sunshine while it lasted! It's gone now :(.....but maybe it'll be back tomorrow! Yay! xxx

Bearofliddlebrain Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 5:20pm

Hiya Jan, hope you enjoyed the sunshine while it lasted! It's gone now :(.....but maybe it'll be back tomorrow! Yay! xxx

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 10:56pm

Bear, the sun has a habit of coming and going, has not been seen around here for a few days, just wonderful rain.I suppose the thing is to enjoy what ever the weather is. I am working on windy weather.

Lou Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 8:24am

I was told some time back never to give advice as I am rubbish at it. It was a very harsh thing to say but it does give me pause every time I think about giving anyone any advice. As you say - who am I to think I know best?! Excellent post and a very good point.

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 10:42am

Lou, I don't think saying you are rubbish at giving advice, is good advice either. I would never be that blunt. Thanks for your kind words.

Bearofliddlebrain Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 8:28am

Leah dear Leah, a super post reminding us that what we say to others can have a great influence.

Years ago, I mean a looong long time ago....when our daughter was born, we were given advice left right and centre.
It was so confusing...we lived miles and miles away from family so listened to their advice over the phone, to the advice of our friends with chiidren, to neighbours who had become friends, to midwives, and the doctor....but at the moments when I really needed help, I did what I thought was best for her and for me. A great midwife had said to me that I should listen to all the 'advice' then just use bits of it that I thought was appropriate for me and baby...and my own common sense.

We none of us can know how we will react when faced with a bereavement; with the loss of a relationship; kids leaving home for uni or 'forever'; coping with depression; or even mundane things like having builders in for months or moving house!

It's good to have advice from different people/friends and better from those who've been through a similar time, but our own life, no matter how similar, is unique and we have to live it using snippets of advice to help us through.....a bit like using Moodscope!
Bear hugs all round...and if you're in Blighty...the sun is trying to shine and summer is nearly here...! Perhaps HO can bring some back from Greece!
xxx

S Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 9:42am

Yay, some sun! Sx

S Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 9:42am

Yay, some sun! Sx

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 10:44am

Bear, The best advice I got aboiut babies was from my mum, she said the baby has not read the baby manual! Thanks for your replies as usual they are caring and show compassion.

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:10am

S hope you have a lovely day in the sun.

Orangeblossom Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 8:43am

Hi Leah
Your quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is a great starting point in our relationships with others. I am a trained Bereavement Supporter with Cruse Bereavement Care & have had to learn early on that you can't fix things for others. Have had to learn this a few times. People just want to be listened to & stayed with while they are undergoing a rough time.it is hard sometimes but listening is empowering & enabling. I personally don't ask for advice unless I have confidence in someone. I do get very uppity with unsolicited advice.

S Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 9:43am

I agree,great quote Leah. Very helpful, thank you. Sx

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 10:47am

Orangeblossom, Thanks for your informative comment. I agree about unsolicited advice. PS I can't see the quote on my screen!!

Bearofliddlebrain Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 5:22pm

Thought for the day: “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt Too true! Bear x

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 10:58pm

Thanks, Bear. Not sure why I cant see it!! Eleanor had lots of wonderful quotes.

Anne Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 9:11am

Hi Leah

What a timely blog - THANK YOU.... As someone who is trained as a counsellor and pride myself on listening and not judging or advising, that doesn't mean that when it comes to my own life I am as non-judgmental. Nor does it mean I don't have strong views, ideas and opinions...
What your blog did do though was stop me, made me realise how miserable, sad, lonely and scared I feel at the moment and I reflected how other peoples kindly comments 'You aren't yourself, what's wrong?' really doesn't help.

Nor does advice to work less, relax, decide what you want to do with your life motivate me either...
So thanks for the nudge - your post made me STOP and do the test, accept I am not in a good place. Whilst I feel alone, I know I am not, thanks for that

Anne x

Bearofliddlebrain Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 5:25pm

Hope you realise what an amazing job you do, Anne. There aren't always good counsellors out there to help people or those who are in need don't always seek your kind of help. I'm hoping that by now, your day will have got betterer and that you know that there are lots of us who are here to hear! Bear x

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 10:59pm

Bear, Thanks for reminding us of the great work counsellors do. Thanks to Anne and all the other counsellors out there who work so hard to help others.

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 10:50am

Anne,
thanks for your comment full of thought provoking ideas. I am glad you found the blog helpful.

Rebecca Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:02am

What a good blog Leah. I always appreciate friendly advice as it makes me feel cared about. Whether I take it or not is a different matter. I think anybody who has experienced depression etc. has useful advice to give. As for your friend I agree that doesn't seem healthy after a few years. Is it worth her trying another counsellor or joining a group for bereaved people? A friend of mine at work had her husband leave her at 60, she has just joined a singles group and is loving it. They go for walks, bowling, meals etc.

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:13am

Rebecca, I like the idea, that instead of getting annoyed by advice, I see it as making me feel cared for. Thanks for thinking of my friend. She is doing things that help her in her own time and is ok.

The Gardener Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:20am

Hello Leah, great and thought provoking as usual It's easy to give advice, costs nothing and the advisor 'feels good' afterwards. I am receiving universal 'help', not advice, other than practical suggestions/information. I am in a huge 'weigh up' situation. There ARE some near ultimatums - in that my health is at risk and it MUST be the paramount thought - if I get ill, we're both lost - and family, who have already enough commitments, would have to be involved. To Bear, and advice on 'bringing up baby'. First son born when I was 19 - my Mum was useless, separated from Pa, and she nearly let me die at 3 months old because she would NOT take advice. M-in-law roared up when baby a week old - bossy, superior, had disapproved of our marriage anyway. She had brought her two sons up on Truby King, a seemingly inhuman New Zealander who was THE guru in the 30's. My baby cried - my instinct was to pick up and hug. M-in-law said no - let him cry - he'll give up - if you start picking up he'll demand it. I obeyed her (one did) and the child harrowed me with his crying - he had infantile colic - a warm hug would have helped. I watch, and envy, these young dads with that contraption strapped to their chests - the baby safe and warm in the nearest equivalent to the womb they had just left.

The Gardener Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:26am

Just read Orange Blossom and bereavement. One of our excellent workers, 18 years old - super in the work place - wild outside - was killed (foretold) being stupid on his motor bike. Mr G and I debated whether to visit the parents - we were not family, after all. We went - they were overjoyed - in their 'milieu' visit by the boss was reckoned an honour - tea arrived and they just talked about their son, and we just listened. Then we closed the firm for the afternoon of his funeral - which seemed to give them enormous comfort.Awfully difficult - Leah and her friend who haunted the grave - our poor priest was 'haunted', even 'plagued' by a woman who just could not cope with being a widow - she was quite rich and her sports car was seen most days outside the vicarage.

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:32am

Gardener, Thanks for sharing those stories. They gave me food for thought. It shows everyone grieves in their own way.

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:27am

Gardener,
I was a Truby King baby- might explain a lot!!
Gardener, you are the only one who can make the decision but at the same time you have other people to consider. Selfishly I want a healthy Gardener as I do so look forward to your daily comments and wonderful stories.

Mary Wednesday Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 3:04pm

May I chime in with a "hear hear" with that sentiment! I adore your posts here, TG and look forward to "hearing" all about the music festival!

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:01pm

Yes, Mary, that music festival sounds wonderful. I liked the tra-la-la too!!

Jul Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 12:12pm

Hi Leah. I rarely ask for advice as partly I don't want to share my problems since to me they are so complicated, I find it almost impossible to explain them clearly and also only I know what is truly going on with me. However, I often hear or read things which strike chords and mean so much to me that I take them on board as "advice'. I used to give advice freely but not so much now. I have had to hold back in a very uncharacteristic way for me recently with a very close family member. It's excruciatingly difficult because I desperately want to help but my efforts have been rebuffed. I realise that no-one knows really what goes on behind closed doors in a family or a relationship, other than your own, and therefore as I don't know all the facts, I cannot possibly help. Also I am not being asked for help or advice. I am witnessing a sad deteriorating situation but feel powerless to help. I think with us, or rather me, who might be on the receiving end of advice, when in a difficult situation which I know is not healthy, I think that I can end it or deal with it in my own way. I usually can but once I needed the help of someone close to me to get me out of a terrible situation. I handed over the task totally to him. I suppose I was at the end of my tether. I was lucky to have someone who could deal with it for me. Thanks Leah for another really interesting challenging blog. xx

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 1:09pm

Jul, Thanks for your detailed response.It is very complicated and personal. It is hard when someone close to us is in need but they rebuff our help or seem to not be ineed of our comfort. You have brought up many interesting points. Once again a very thoughtful reply. Thank you. xx

The Gardener Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 12:51pm

leah, what a lovely thing to say - but the serious decision making seems to hinge on the importance of keeping me healthy. I've bounced! Mr G has been in a 'decline' since the murder of the MP. Refusing to shift from his chair and wrecking an evening party for me yesterday. He is resembling Timothy in the Forsyte Saga - any drama (shares going down mostly) and he 'kept to his room'. I have a window I am puzzled about. But, it's Fete de la Musique Tuesday night. We have a concert 10th July. We've been doing the publicity for this mini-festival for more that 20 years, and I've kept the posters. I've printed out the lyric for 'Music!Music!Music!' to go with the current poster, rest to be displayed. Will have an antique music stand with Beethoven sonatas on it (can only attempt one). Then Wednesday, market day, is my birthday - so will blast the street with music. Beethoven's 9th? Tchaikovskys noisiest? Rach 2? Trumpet, organ, steel band, mambo? Will line them all up - and take requests (probably to turn the sound down). Tra-la-la.

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 1:13pm

Gardener, What a great description of local musical festival. My parents loved the Forsythe saga so much that they were late picking myself and my friends up from Girl Guides as they were too engrossed in the prorgram!! My thoughts are with you as you make your importnat decisions.

Mary Wednesday Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 3:02pm

I hate giving advice (outside of my profession, where I find it almost impossible to resist, solicited or not!). I rarely ask for advice either because I always need to make up my own mind. Unsolicited advice always makes my hackles rise - especially when it's from my sister! And grief? Grief takes 3 - 7 years. The first year is the worst, but it doesn't follow a set pattern of course, and everyone grieves in their own way. But telling someone to let go of their grief cannot help and can only anger and distress. We can only find out ourselves - usually the hard way...

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:07pm

Mary Wednesday, It is interesting that there is usual one person we do not wnat unsolicited advice from and it is often a close family member. I would never tell anyone to give up on their grief, I suppose I felt the daily visitetery were not helping. As I said i realised once I had said it, it was not appropriate or helpful. Her bereavement counsellor actually said a similar thing to me. I suppose as grief is an indiviudal thing some people would take less than 3 years and some much longer than 7 years. Thanks for your comments. They given me more to think about.

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:11pm

typo fairies at my commnet again. should read visit cemetery. in last line left out have.

Kim Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 4:48pm

Hi all. I think grieving takes many forms and people should not be judged. For example, if a person tended to their garden every day no-one would say anything about them enjoying their garden. They might say how lovely and how proud that person is of their garden and how it shows passion. They might be praised. It is important to realise we must tend to our grief garden. Going everyday is not a crime. When a person is able or ready to grieve differently then it's their choice. Then there are those that do not show they are outwardly grieving but are suffering terribly inside. They get judged for not caring about the deceased enough. I think it is better to support by offering to help with chores, meals and other helpful acts of kindness and if that person wants to talk to just listen.

Frankie Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 7:46pm

Wise words Kim, thank-you. Frankie

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:15pm

Thanks Kim for your thoughtful blog. I agree people should not be judged which is why I shared my experience when i realised what I was doing. As I said it is so easy to make assumptions and offer advice. I have helped my friend over the years by listening, by being there, by hugs, by meals, by listening, remembering anniversaires and in many other ways.

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:17pm

Kim, "we need to tend to our grief garden" what a lovely sentiment. Thanks so much for your input.

wannabesunbeam Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 6:07pm

May I ask how you start a post/blog ? Many thanks

Frankie Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 7:45pm

Evening wannabesunbeam: if you would like to submit a blog, email it to Caroline at support@moodscope.com. Frankie

Frankie Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 7:45pm

Evening wannabesunbeam: if you would like to submit a blog, email it to Caroline at support@moodscope.com. Frankie

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:18pm

wannabesunbeam, what a lovely name. Yes do have a go and submit a blog. Cheers leah

Leah Sun, Jun 19th 2016 @ 11:27pm

Thanks everyone for your well considered comments. I always learn so much from people's comments. The way people respond to blogs in such an individual way makes for very interesting reading. Feel free to comment on anything I or others have said as I as usual look over the blog for several days, in case someone has written a new comment. Hugs from across the seas. Leah xx

wannabesunbeam Mon, Jun 20th 2016 @ 11:35am

Many thanks Leah and Frankie

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