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Handling sad news about someone else

Sometimes, we hear about something tragic that isn't sad in our life directly, but is in the life of someone we care about. Even though this news does not affect us directly, we can still have an acute emotional reaction that leaves us feeling at odds with ourselves, unsettled or just so sad and we struggle to get this news off of our mind. This is usually around a terminal illness or a sudden death.

Even if you have never been in the persons presence who the sad news is about, sometimes the fact that it has happened to someone you care about, for example a good friend - that is enough for our human ability to empathise to kick in. You have likely seen on some level, and perhaps even heard about the effect this news has had on your friend and their family. If you also have someone in your life who is close in age to the person the sad news is about, this can also cause our empathetic abilities to come forward. As humans in general, but especially if you are a parent to a young child, we are wired to pay attention to such things that could harm our family too. It just so happens that at this time the attention your mind is paying, is to the ultimate thing we are designed to try our best to avoid, which is death.

We can feel a sense of unfairness around the diagnosis and situation, especially if it is relating to a young person. There feels a universal truth within our culture here in the West that someone young should be free of a sense of mortality. I know of many people who would agree with the sense of unfairness, it just doesn't seem like something that should be on the table (so to speak). You may have a reservation of wanting to express how strongly you are feeling your, in this example, friends situation to them. This can be confusing in the sense that you want to find words to support them but do not want to run the possibility of adding any further perceived concerns onto them. That is a very normal reaction at a time like this. If you care about this, you are likely a good friend and have this persons best interests at heart. I am sure you're already saying and doing the right things with them. If in doubt, it's always OK to ask if there's anything you can do to support, even if it's just them saying they'd like you to keep being yourself - something being a constant at this time can bring a sense of comfort in itself. I wonder if there is anyone else that you have been able to speak with to share any of your concerns for how much this situation has affected you, or if there is anyone who is generally understanding and could empathise with what you are feeling? Perhaps your partner or another friend? If you are a parent and the situation relates to another child, no parent wants to imagine that that is a situation that they may have to encounter personally. Even if your child has always been a healthy individual, that singular thought can be alarming enough. If you are concerned for why this is still such a heavy issue at the moment for you - I would ask myself whether there was a deeper issue... I may ponder which of the following resonate with me - and some of them may be tough to read or think about so absolutely do not rush yourself and be gentle. Am I afraid that I would not be able to cope if something like this happened to my family? Have I been scared of death before, perhaps when I was a child? How have I handled other people becoming very ill before? How have I handled other people or pets passing away in the past? What role do my beliefs about religion play into mortality? How do I feel about my own mortality? Sometimes we struggle with the inevitability of this persons last moment alive. Knowing is the hardest part a lot of the time. It's often why philosophers tend to believe we could never really live if we knew when we were going to pass because it would cause us to live outside of the moment too much and worry that time was shortening. There is a lot to this and I do feel that it is something of a personal journey to be on and something that you may discover more over time.

Death in relation to power and feelings of powerlessness: I definitely understand this parallel because is death not the ultimate relinquishing of power? We know death will come to us and our loved ones eventually - there's no escaping it. The only thing philosophers and many spiritual teachings say that we can do in this regard is accept our mortality and upon that acceptance we are able to truly live. Life's finality is what makes it valuable. Many authors have also explored this concept and filmmakers too. I hope you know that this is not an abnormal thing that you are feeling. It is very normal and something that happens to most everyone at some point. It terms of helping yourself through this time I believe that gratitude would help. It's all too easy to fixate and worry of the things that we cannot control or really influence. I encourage you to discuss with your family or whomever you live with, every day at least 3 things that you're grateful for and why. The why is important because it allows you to feel the gratitude. This is lovely when done before tucking into bed or at meal time but really, doing it is better than not doing it; any time is great. This has been shown time and time over now to increase our baseline of happiness because no matter what may happen, we are aware of our many blessings and can bring our mind back into the present easier and easier - we build resiliency. If you feel that you have lived a relatively care-free life so far and wonder if this is why you're struggling with, in this example, your friends situation? I do not believe so. Yes not having really been through grief before can make it harder when we get older. If we go back to the idea of the parallels between your child and this other child the tragedy has happened to, perhaps that is where it is... Something like this can and does often highlight our own mortality. Again, gratitude is great here. The more you are present with your current life and all of the wonderful moments you can create, the less you will be concerned with how much life you have left because you will be too busy living. It sounds cliche but it is true.

Perhaps assessing your life and what's important is more of the question here. SO, are you happy with how you're spending your time? Are you happy with the quality of your relationships? Work? Adventure? etc.. If you feel you have a pretty good life balance and if you believe that and feel it is true, then you have certainly a lot to be grateful for indeed. I really hope that this has served you. I just want to reassure you that none of these feelings are abnormal and are a reasonable reaction to a tragic and sad situation of someone you care about. It's not an easy situation to witness and it can throw up a few questions. Believe that you will carry yourself through this and come out all the stronger for it. I wish you all the very best Love, Authenticity, Balance - Sophie xo

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