ASK ABDI: WHY DO PEOPLE SAY SUCH CRAZY THINGS WHEN ANOTHER PERSON IS VULNERABLE?
QUESTION: Not too long ago, I was taken into the emergency room for appendicitis surgery. While in recovery, I had several visitors who made comments such as how this was "for the best" or that I "was lucky it was not worse". The topper was a friend reading a paragraph from some healing book about the emotional causes of the rupture. I remember, several years back, when I had a horrendous second term miscarriage, a relative telling me how it was a blessing. Why do people say such crazy things when another person is vulnerable? Is it really possible that what my friend read to me about my illness is true? Can you shed some light on this? I see it happening around me all the time.
ANSWER: I am truly sorry that you have had to experience this, as it is painful stuff, especially when one is in a weakened state. I do come across this phenomenon with such frequency that I have taken to forewarning people in such situations to be psychically ready for such comments. To point to the obvious, the words that come out of people’s mouths in such situations are mostly about them and not us. Their fears and need for comfort packaged as concern or a gift.
There have been numerous books around for several decades now that connect specific illnesses in the body with one or two emotional/spiritual issues. It is incredibly simplistic to believe that billions of souls with different genes/life experiences/karmas/vasanas have the same single corresponding emotional or spiritual trigger for an illness.
We, as a lot, have a difficult time with helplessness and all the survival anxiety that it brings up. So when we see another in a situation that is beyond our control, we unconsciously try to assert control by acting like we know what this particular situation is about. This is destructive beyond words, as you have experienced in a weakened state, no matter how well meaning the other person is.
It is quite powerful to sit with someone who is undergoing a difficult time without judgment, needing to give answers, advice, or reasons. Just sitting and holding space is a profound gift. Quite difficult in our culture, since we do not have much experience in our own daily life of being in silence or holding a place of internal vulnerability.