Monday, January 11, 2010

Wisdom, or lack of it

I was reading a blog a few days ago by Mo (who I referenced in a previous post and who just experience a devastating loss). She was listing the absolutely insensitive things that people say to someone who has just lost a baby. Instead of simply saying "I'm Sorry" people feel the need to give reasons WHY the pregnancy didn't work out. I think back on my life, and all wonder about the people that I have interacted with that knew to say "I'm Sorry" to those who needed it.  I can't think of very many (which I'm sure is due to my poor memory and not because it didn't happen more frequently), but I do remember qualifying those people as "compassionate" or "wise." They were the people that many asked for advice or that were chosen to be confided in with sensitive news.

Does knowing this mark a person as one who has suffered? Is wisdom and compassion in cases such as these an acquired personality trait?

Perhaps not always, but I think back on those people, and wonder what terrible things happened in their life. What awful things did they go through? And I'm flabbergasted that I didn't notice before...


  1. I've thought about this quite a bit lately. I wouldn't want to relive my RPL, but one thing it has taught me is that you really never know what someone is going through. That, and to sometimes realize it is ok to say just the simple words, "I'm sorry".

  2. I like to think that I'm a pretty compassionate person, but having been through this loss has changed my perspective dramatically. I now am deliberately trying to avoid any sort of trite phrases that are socially acceptable but that I don't really mean. For example, here in the dirty South, everyone tells everyone that they are praying for them -- no matter what the circumstances, or how well you know them. While some people may very well be religious and the kind of people to stop and remember someone they hardly know in prayer, most of the time its just something you say.

    I don't know that I would call it wisdom, but I do know what I want to hear -- and it's not that someone I hardly know is praying for me. I want to hear that its unfair and someone is sorry and that I am still loved. A hug says all those things without a word.

    All this to say that, in my case, any "wisdom" about what to say is definitely acquired. I know I wasn't this smart before.