Over the Christmas holidays, there was a light display at one of our local parks. Not only that, but they were opening up the model train exhibit that we always see when we go walking but is always locked up tight.
I thought our two-year-old would enjoy the lights and I knew he would love the trains. And I was right. He would have stayed looking at those trains for hours upon hours if we had let him.
But we eventually had to leave for bed. He cried. As we put him in his car seat he cried and I tried to console him.
“We can come back another time.”
“We have trains at home.”
Then I had a moment where I realized, he is sad. It is disappointing to leave seeing something you have wanted to see for so long. So I stopped trying to stop his tears and cries. And I said, “It is sad isn’t it?” He sniffled, “Yes.” “I am sorry you are sad,” and then I reached over and held his hand. “Mmmhmm,” he said. And then holding my hand he calmed down.
I sat there stunned and realized that often we try to “make things better” for others and “fix things” but sometimes what people want and need is someone to acknowledge their sadness. Understand and validate the disappointment or pain. Then it seems they can move on to heal.
It actually reminds me of a scene from Inside Out.
So often we want to fix it with happiness when what someone needs is understanding. For you to acknowledge the pain and loss. Even if you don’t understand it.
I challenge you, instead of trying to fix pain this next time around. Sit with them in it. Affirm and acknowledge their loss and hold their hand.
It might be the most healing thing you can do.