Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.Romans 12:15
When I encounter a person I know who is sad about something, I want to make it better right away. I want to help. You probably know the feeling of wanting to help someone in pain. It can be uncomfortable to be around someone who is grieving.
- The first thing that comes to mind is to tell them it will get better someday.
- Then you tell them that they should think about something else.
The first approach is “placating,” and the second is “distracting.” Neither helps much unless the problem at hand is something benign, like a stubbed toe. The truth is, when we try to change or redirect a person’s emotions, we are essentially discounting those emotions whether we intend to or not.
Thankfully, there is a better way to help.
The letter to the Romans tells us in plain language this very simple remedy: “weep with them that weep.”
Why is this a good thing to do? It validates strong feelings without giving them a name. Naming things can help sometimes, but it is also risky because if you pick the wrong words to describe someone else’s distress, you might offend them or derail their thoughts in a way that increases their pain. But just weeping with them is much less risky. Anyone can do it. Weeping is a physical expression of solidarity and understanding—a live action demonstrating interpersonal connections that are comforting to people in pain because they instantly know that you get it, you are like them, and you accept their feelings. Being known and accepted are powerful.
We might find it uncomfortable to weep with someone, but then, the passage does not say “try to weep,” does it? It says to do it.
So let it out, People.
- Cry with the crying.
- Stop placating and distracting.
- Let the tears flow down like rain.