The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.

     Henry David Thoreau

A special friend of ours shared with us these thoughts below, written by Kenneth Haugk, PhD, clinical psychologist, pastor and author.  Dr. Haugk writes about “healing people”, what they are and how they respond to others’ grief and pain.  He writes from his many years counseling others and from his personal experience losing his wife 11 years ago.  Here is an excerpt from his book Finding Hope and Healing:

The key to walking through your grief is finding people who will let you talk and help you heal.  I call these healing people.  H-E-A-L stands for Here, Empathetic, Accepting, and Listening.  Healing people are:

  • Here for you when you need them.  They’re willing to be with you and make time for you.  They know that their presence is one of the greatest gifts they can give.
  • Empathetic. No one else can truly understand what you’re feeling.  But people with empathy will do their best to understand and to let some of your pain touch them. 
  • Accepting.  They don’t judge you, try to change you, or tell you what you should do or how you should think or feel.
  • Listening.  They really focus on what you have to say. They let you share your feelings and know how important it is for you to tell your story again and again. 

Some healing people will seek you out, but most of the time you’ll have to look for them.  One man told me, “I’d read people’s faces.  I’d check their eyes when we made eye contact.  I’d look at their body language.  I’d listen to how they said, ‘How are you?’  I was often able to tell which people really wanted to know how I was.”

You can sometimes help a friend become a healing person.  A woman told me about a friend who wanted to help but kept interrupting her with cheerful clichés.   Finally, the woman told her friend, “here’s what I need from you.  Let me be upset without trying to cheer me up or fix things.  Let me talk – while you mostly remain quiet and listen.  Let me cry.  Give me a hug.  You don’t have to say or do a whole lot.  Mostly just be there and care.”  Her friend got the point and became a healing person from then on.  The grieving woman offered a wonderful gift to her friend – the opportunity to care in a more helpful way, a gift the woman returned many times over.

Our friend Wanda wrote, when sharing this excerpt with us:

Thank you for being “healing people” in my life!

To us, there is no greater joy than to know that we can help bring some measure of healing.  We are privileged to make this journey with Wanda and with so many others along the way.