Somebody Needs to Hear from You. How to Reach Out. By Dish Stanley

Somebody Needs to Hear from You. How to Reach Out. By Dish Stanley

. 3 min read

The holidays are tough for a lot of people. There are an infinite number of reasons for this: loss, divorce, loneliness, separation from loved ones, feeling crushed by holiday demands on top of everything else. For a few years, for me, as somebody who ended up a childless widow in my early 40’s, it was an annual sledgehammer of a reminder that my life had not turned out as I had assumed it would — me, serving Christmas dinner to a table seated with an adoring husband, well-behaved children, family and friends. (I’m over it by now.) Or, for a lot of people it’s just all the forced cheer.

About this time of year I do a quick scan through my mind of friends and acquaintances who have lost somebody or something (a job? health? their peace of mind?) in the last year, are going through a break-up or etc., etc., etc. I call or write something simple like “Hey, I was just thinking of you because {I just finished the latest book from [insert favorite author]}.

A couple of ”pro tips” on reaching out, if I may, based on my own experience on the receiving end of these during a couple of years that were obvious (to everyone) were tough for me:

Avoid referring to whatever it is that is the particular reason, whatever loss or difficulty, that prompted you to reach out to them. I try to mention something that I have in common with them, “Hey Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters just came up in my playlist. I’ve been thinking of you.“ Or, really, “I’ve been thinking of you and wanted to say hi,” is enough.

Why? Nobody needs to be reminded of their struggles. Trust me on this. If their response suggests they might be open to it, you could then say “How are you doing?” That way you are letting them take the lead on talking about their loss/pain/struggle (if they want). Maybe they’d actually prefer to have a diversion from their struggles and hear what fun thing you’re up to, or discuss a show, a book, current events.

Avoid saying anything resembling “This must be a tough time for you.“ They may, in that moment, have just gotten back from a perfectly wonderful dinner with a good friend, or be enjoying a peaceful moment immersed in a book, with their dog in their lap. That is a moment of comfort or peace they need to stay in. You also don’t want to run the risk of unintentionally insinuating that they should be in constant sorrow. I am by nature a happy person who loves to have fun (and is also quite resilient), so even in my darkest periods I still laughed, and was able to immerse myself in others’ company, lives and happiness. I chafed against the expectation that my sadness should be ever-present and all-consuming.

In addition, when somebody else brought up how tough things must be for me it often had the unintended effect of making me work hard to reassure and comfort them. “No really, I’m doing okay. I’m able to read again … I went to dinner last night … [here I’m reaching for proof points demonstrating that I’m getting by].”

Most importantly, reach out. I so appreciated friends and acquaintances making the effort to reach out. Even if they did it in an awkward, clunky way it made me feel surrounded by love; it was their love that reassured me that ”this, too, shall pass.” I would figure out how to put my life back together again because I was surrounded by people who cared about me. I needed and appreciated all of it. So the most important thing I have to say on this subject is reach out. If you can remember the couple of suggestions I make above, that would be good.

But most importantly, somebody you care about needs to hear from you. Let them know you’re thinking about them.

The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter from Dish Stanley curating articles & intelligence on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?

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