Will Anybody Just Listen?

Unfortunately, many people in their sincere desire to help someone in grief, think that they need to say something to help and comfort the grieving person.  Sometimes it is helpful to say something, but what a grieving person probably needs most is for some caring person to just listen for a while.  The following poem speaks to this matter:


When I ask you to listen to me,
and you start giving advice,
 you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me,
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me,
and you feel that you have to do something to solve my problem,
you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
Listen!  All I asked was that you listen,
Not talk or do – just hear me.
Advice is cheap: 10 cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper.
And I can do it for myself;
I’m not helpless – maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and weakness.
But, when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational,
then I can quit trying to convince you,
and get about the business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling,
and when that’s clear,
the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what’s behind them.
So, please listen and just hear me,
and, if you want to talk,
wait a minute for your turn;
and l’ll listen to you.


*Adapted from “Listen”, prepared by PATHways Center for Grief & Loss, Hospice of Lancaster County, PA