Tag Archives: grief

Stop Listening!

Not too long ago I read a post by executive coach and Enneagram expert, Wendy Appel, called “The Bamboo Leader.” In it, she likened the qualities of bamboo to desirable qualities within people. Principal among them were the qualities of being flexible, resilient and versatile. She advised that to be a Bamboo Leader, we must seek to understand others through listening to their words and being open to their point of view. She also noted that listening to the words of others is not the same as adopting their point of view.

two silhouettes in bamboo

Strong, flexible and resilient bamboo is equally suited for creating boundaries and protecting itself from what it does not need. Bamboo Forest location: The Grounds for Sculpture, Trenton, NJ

Reading her post made me think about the times we need to reject others points of view and in that way, not listen to them. Sometimes, we need to stop listening so that we can remain true to ourselves and so that we can protect ourselves from hurt and harm. Continue reading

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A New Way to Look at Grieving

What if we viewed all of life’s hardships as natural, and took it as normal that our struggles with them should be tackled in full view of and with open support from our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers?

passengers pull together to hoist a sail

Just as a sail is too heavy to hoist alone, grief is too heavy to bear alone.

I got to thinking about this after I heard Alix Spiegel on NPR report on how differently Japanese and Americans tackle classroom education. In America, the brightest student is held up for peer praise and respect, while the one struggling to learn is left alone, nearly shamed and shunned. In Japan, the student who is having the most difficulty is brought before the class and learns in front of his peers, with their encouragement. They all share in the student’s accomplishment of conquering the difficult lesson. Struggling to learn is seen as a natural part of the journey to become educated.

I am struck by two facts. One is the open acceptance of the struggle. The teacher and peers openly give their support and it is openly received by the student. The other is the recognition that learning is a journey and eventual success is expected and perhaps inevitable.  Continue reading

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The Right Thing to Say When Someone Dies

Brad’s mother died a week ago today. Since then, many of our friends have expressed condolences in person or in a short note.

I’ve noticed that some people seem to naturally know what to say to bring comfort. Others struggle. Some resort to platitudes that do not bring comfort and sometimes bring more pain. Wouldn’t it be great if we always knew the right thing to say when someone dies?

The Right Thing to Say When Someone Dies, Brad W. Smith photographer LIfeIsHOTBlog

Grief makes us feel closed off from others, the right words can help open communication.

The right thing to say is composed of five simple ideas, and two optional statements. Each idea can be expressed in a few words. Here is a step-by-step guide to knowing the right thing to say when someone dies. Continue reading

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