The Art of Presence for People Who Need to Know We Care

presence2Each time a friend or acquaintance experiences an illness or death in the family, I go through the same thought process. When should I call?  What should I offer? Will I intrude?

What it really comes down to is this: I should stop dithering around and just do something — just about anything, really — to demonstrate that I am thinking about my friends. It all comes down to being present for the people who need to know that their friends care.

In a thoughtful January op-ed piece New York Times columnist, David Brooks, wrote about The Art of Presence. All of us, he explains, need to develop the ability to understand how and when and be near people who need our assistance and support, especially during times of great stress or loss. Many of us of are not that adept at responding appropriately when people need our help.

“There are no uniformly right responses,” Brooks writes. He also describes how blogger Catherine Woodiwiss shares her family’s experience with trauma and offers what Brooks calls collective wisdom — how to help others in need and the importance of being present (and maybe it’s just being around) when things go wrong in people’s lives.

I like the idea of presence, and I need become more skilled at this type of caregiving. Understanding the art of presence, that is learning how to nurture others and pay attention to their needs, contributes to a more compassionate and richer life.

Best Quote

The Woodiwisses say they were awed after each tragedy by the number of people, many of whom had been mere acquaintances, who showed up and offered love, from across the nation and the continents. They were also disoriented by a number of close friends who simply weren’t there, who were afraid or too busy.

2 thoughts on “The Art of Presence for People Who Need to Know We Care

  1. What a great reminder. I recently learned this when I stopped by to leave off a cake for a friend who just lost her very young neighbor to a horrible traffic accident. I thought I would be swimming through friends, but she opened the door and just said “Thank you. Mornings alone are the hardest for me to manage.” I will never forget that lesson.


  2. What a kind and thoughtful blog you have. This post really resonates with me because I, too have found – as you wrote, “. . . learning how to nurture others and pay attention to their needs, contributes to a more compassionate and richer life.”


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