SUICIDE AFTERSHOCKS: VOL III Southern Women’s Wisdom–Discomfort and the Power of a Pause

During the last few months I’ve found myself referencing my husband’s suicide in conversation as the B.E.  (Bill Event)

and making time distinctions based on before and after Bill did what he did.  It feels healthy for me and lighter than using the word suicide.  He simply did what he did-what he chose to do.business_110009277-012914-int

As time passes and I’m happier and more present, how he died is becoming almost irrelevant.  Interestingly when people ask, I pause to decide how direct I care to be in that given moment as my experience has been that most people can’t really handle the truth of suicide.  They seem ill-equipped to respond without judgment.  Most become highly uncomfortable or pretend they didn’t actually ask how he died, rather than pausing and considering a response.

Suicide.  Just the word causes discomfort. Suicide carries so many judgments—social, religions and familial.  When I do use that word, it’s not that I’m choosing to make others uncomfortable.  I am simply choosing to honor myself and respect the level of comfort I’ve been able to achieve in the aftermath of a horrific situation.

 

58d7e6020950c8147cc62a476d63af49The first statement one of my brothers made to me the day of the B.E. was, “I didn’t know your marriage was that bad”.  He maintained this position and even went so far as to publicly state that he and everyone else knew that Bill’s suicide was my fault.  This was my BROTHER! 

A person I considered a friend commented, “How could you not know—you’re so intuitive. This is what you do!  You must have known this was going to happen!”  This was a FRIEND!

My dad’s reaction to my first and only crying phone call to him in the days immediately following the B.E. was, “Quit living in the past.” He said this just prior to hanging up on me.  This was my FATHER.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do and called a girl friend—

a bit older than me and raised in south central Virginia.  Her wise counsel came in the form of a question.  After hearing my pain over the judgmental and insensitive comments being made, she asked,

“Kim, does your Father have a vagina?  Do any of these people you’re speaking with have vagina’s?

I responded no, that they did not, in fact, have vagina’s.  Her response, classic, quintessential southern pragmatism, “Don’t you know you can’t have a conversation when you’re upset with a person lacking a vagina?

Enough said.  I was laughing while crying and oh, so much better!

A girlfriend I grew up with reminded me gently, “Honey, if common sense was lard, your family wouldn’t be able to grease a pan—I don’t mean you of course!”

Another grand moment came while at different girlfriend’s house in central Virginia.  I walked into a group and reacted – inappropriately– to a random participants comment about the B.E.   I kind of lost it and got angry –I really wanted to kick this person till she bled!  (an inappropriate response, I know–but I did pause!)  To avoid any verbal escalation, I went to my friend and said I need help getting under control!  She responded with,

“Well honey, that’s what the back yard is for—you go on out there and stay as long as it takes and I’ll make you some tea!”

8 or 9 weeks after the B.E. I was heading into a meeting with 2 executives and 7 trainers of a global organ harvesting and transplant organization.  The meeting was taking place because—well, that’s another story!  This meeting was a big deal for me and I was still quite emotional but in the “let’s get’er done” frame of mind and knew I needed bucking up before entering the meeting.  Like every southern girl would—I phoned a friend—with a vagina!  She told me,

“Tighten up that corset, put on your lip gloss, lift up your chest and speak slow and syrupy sweet—you got this.”

Scarlett Tightening up!

Scarlett Tightening-up!

Southern comfort no –alcohol required!

Here’s to the strong, proud and direct women in my circle—southern or otherwise!  Thank you for the perfect and timely wisdom and powerful support!

With warmest aloha,

Kim

Challenge:

Pause.  Practice pausing and taking a breath while you mindfully consider an intentional response.  Perhaps nod your head while you pause so the person you’re with will know you’ve heard them—if on the phone, during your pause make a sound like, “hmmm” so the other knows they’ve been heard.!  This technique can create connection, deepen relationships and communication and allows you to learn to listen from a place of desiring to hear rather than from the place of desiring to be heard.  Pausing often times allows the other to hear themselves, as well!

 

 

10 traits for Deep Listening! Truly Listening vs.Hearing

Huh?

Huh?

Listening Despite Differences
Listening Despite Differences

Most of us can hear.  Hearing is an involuntary act.   But how many of us truly engage in listening to another?  Listening means we have to actually take in the auditory information that the other is parleying and then interpret that information.  Best case scenario, the listener receives the information in the way that the speaker intends for it to be heard.

Unfortunately, this is where most communication breaks down as there is no Universal Meaning to anything.  It is here where most of us, as listeners, will interpret the incoming information through the filter of our experiences and assign meaning to it.  Then we make the assumption that the meaning we’ve given is agreed upon rather than seeking clarity about the speakers intended meaning.

We’ve all done it, so we all know the type of person who assumes they know what’s coming next.  They’re the sentence finishers—the interrupters—the conversation dominators.  The assumers are the ones who are formulating what they want to say while you’re still conveying your information. 

When this happens, it simply means that the listener has stopped truly listening.  The trouble with this is that there is a basic human need to feel heard, seen and understood. 

So, how can we listen as an ACT OF SERVICE to meet another’s basic need? 

Active, deep heart-centered listening is an art form that must be cultivated.  We hear roughly 4x faster than we speak so listening must be patient, focused, present and attentive—on purpose.  The best listeners reflect back what they’ve heard for clarification.   This guarantees that they will not make assumptions.  It is common courtesy to listen attentively; it builds your empathy muscles and cultivates compassion for others.  It shows that you are committed to more than yourself—your story—and you being heard. 

10 Traits for Deep Listening!

1.      Keep the conversation on what the speaker is saying not on your response.

2.      Let others speak.  Don’t dominate conversations.

3.      Don’t finish sentences for others.

4.      Cultivate a deep desire to understand and experience what the speaker is conveying rather than assuming it is the same as your similar experience.

5.      Provide feedback so the speaker knows you’re engaged, but do not interrupt with your stories, opinion or preferences.  Smile and make eye contact.

6.      Do not offer unsolicited advice or try to solution find unless you are specifically asked!

7.      Intentionally enter conversations with no agenda of seeking their agreement or to change them, their mind or their perceptions.

8.      Give up assuming you know what anything means!

9.      Reflect what you’ve heard.  Ask questions clarifying not only what the speaker has said, but how it felt for them, what they think/feel now, and how it’s changed them if they’re relating a story.

10.  Be very present.  Square your shoulders/heart to the speaker and listen with not only your ears, but your heart—your entire body.  Listen as an act of service!

Remember, feeling heard is a basic human need.  Truly, deeply listening to another is an act of kindness that uplifts the speaker, forges a deep connection between speaker and listener, one of unity that allows us to focus on our commonalities rather than our differences.  Active, heart-centered listening creates space for differences to exist without judgment.

Joyfully and with warmest aloha from Kauai,

Kim