Sunday, 18 November 2012

A Greater Understanding- Tears (Part 2 , Supporting Others)

Leila's experience:  

  Crying, it's interesting all the different ways we have to express ourselves. As you learned in Barry's post, crying can mean a wide variety of things. Tears have various chemicals to determine that. But what do you do when someone's crying? How do you react? What do you say?
  I thought I'd share some of my experiences and support work training to bring a different angle of insight into tears and crying. Have you ever handed someone a tissue when they're crying? Seems pretty standard right?  When someone cries, a lot of the time we as supporters have a natural inclination to hand them a tissue, out of that need to comfort. Well according to feminst support work philosophies, you don't necessarily have to. It seems many people don't always want a tissue, for some it means you want them to stop crying when they still feel they have more to release. So what do you do instead? It's about open communication, asking them what they would like. "I want you to know it's safe to cry here" "It's ok to cry" "Do you need anything from me?". For one person it might be a hand to hold, for another, they might need a hot cup of tea to relax.
  One of the most important things I've learned from being a support worker is that, not only is it about keeping that person seeking support  feeling safe but making sure to keep yourself in check as well.

  I remember the first time I supported someone face to face, he told me the story of how he was sexually assaulted and he started to cry, blaming himself. All I wanted to do was cry with him but I kept myself in check and remembered that it wasn't about that. So I asked him what he needed, and he just held my hand as I explained to him that nothing he did could have made that incident his fault. Same thing for all others I've supported. I make sure to create a space that's safe for a person to let go and I do my best to ensure them that the self-blame they're facing isn't unique and that they're not alone in their experiences.

  When it's all said and done with, there are times when I've had myself a little cry as well. I give myself love, and I take care of myself and these emotions. I know that I love what I do and I wouldn't change it for the world, and crying is and always will be a very basic characteristic of human nature.

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