A Friend’s Job…

 In Reflections

“I learned, very gradually, that a friend’s job in these circumstances [depression] is not to cheer the person up. It’s to acknowledge the reality of the situation; it’s to hear, respect, and love them; it’s to show them you haven’t given up on them, you haven’t walked away.” —David Brooks

“To hear, respect, and love them” is the job of a friend suffering from depression, says author David Brooks. Sharing all that he learned about how to be with someone during his friend’s depression and, painfully, after his suicide, Brooks goes on to say he also learned about the power of simply being present.

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” ― Henri Nouwen

Sometimes we will be the friend in need and other times we’ll be the one called to offer the sacred service of sitting with someone. Depending on how we’re wired, we might find it difficult to avoid jumping into fix it mode, or a beloved friend will be anxious to help and move to make things better for us.  It takes courage to ask for what we really need (or what our friend needs) and to speak up when this need for presence isn’t being met.

This art of friendship is worthy of our attention, worthy of practicing to become a better friend. Whom can you reach out to today to say ‘hello’ and to listen? Or, can you step out of your comfort zone to call someone to ask them to ‘just’ listen?

May you be blessed by the gift of friendship. And may you reach out this week to be a good friend to someone in your community.

The Solution

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”

―Dorothy Day
This image and quote is part of our 30 days of Thriving Together inspiration we’re offering on our EremosAustin Facebook page. If you’re on social media, please check out our page.

A Tremendous Thing

“’Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.'”
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

My Dead Friends

I have begun,
when I’m weary and can’t decide an answer to a bewildering question

to ask my dead friends for their opinion
and the answer is often immediate and clear.

Should I take the job? Move to the city? Should I try to conceive a child
in my middle age?

They stand in unison shaking their heads and smiling—whatever leads
to joy, they always answer,

to more life and less worry. I look into the vase where Billy’s ashes were –
it’s green in there, a green vase,

and I ask Billy if I should return the difficult phone call, and he says, yes.
Billy’s already gone through the frightening door,

whatever he says, I’ll do.

—Marie Howe, from What the Living Do.

Note from Dianna: Sometimes the clearest conversation can be with those we’ve loved and lost. I’ve heard many stories of the healing power of these moments of connection.

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