Sitting With

Download Feb 11 152A grief counselor in my town tells about a conversation he had with a taxi driver. Making conversation, the cab driver asked why he was in town. The counselor said, “I am here to teach the staff at a hospital how to be helpful someone who has experienced the death of a loved one.” The cabbie looked confused for a moment. But then he said, “I understand. You are going to teach them how to sit with.”

Now it was the professional who was confused. He asked, “What do you mean ‘sit with?’” The driver responded: “Well, when we have a death in our community, we always make sure we have someone there at the house to sit with the person who is sad.”

How simple and beautiful. I am no stranger to being with those who have a deep loss in their life. As a psychotherapist, I clearly know my role as helper. As a friend, I have the same anxiety most folks have on the way to the house of the mourner: “What will I say?” And then I remember this story. Just sit with.

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Dr. Patrick O’Malley is a psychotherapist in Fort Worth, Texas, specializing in grief counseling. For 35 years, he has counseled individuals, couples and families in his private practice. Dr. O'Malley has recently published a book, "Getting Grief Right" about grief recovery.

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