Promoting Healthy Emotions – Last Chance Advice
People normally do a pretty good job promoting healthy emotions in others by appreciating them, building them up, and valuing their help. But have you ever thought that your opportunity to strengthen someone’s mental well-being might be your last chance ever for that person? This happened to me when I went to visit a seriously ill friend of mine in a long term health care facility.
I walked quietly down the hall that smelled of antiseptic mixed with a medicinal smell. The floors shone as if having been scrubbed with a toothbrush. Amidst all the cleanliness was the dirty truth of bodies breaking down behind each closed door. I put on the protective wear that the nurse instructed me to wear and stuck my purse in the locker outside my friend’s room door.
And then I cautiously entered the isolation room.
It was awkward to see my friend ensconced in the bed with the breathing machine working for her and other tubes everywhere. She was unable to talk, but had her eyes opened and seemed to be pleased that I had come.
I proceeded to carry on a one-way conversation with her. I told her what my family was up to before I began reminiscing about our times together and how much she had blessed me. Then I continued on with how she had blessed her grandchildren in different ways that I knew about. I read some scripture to her and tried to encourage her faith in God who she was going to meet face to face very soon.
It was getting harder and harder to carry on this one-sided conversation, so I mentioned to her where I was going when I left the hospital. She thought I meant I was getting ready to leave, and she shook her head back and forth firmly in a gesture of “NO, don’t go!”
My heart melted within me. All the sharing I had been doing with her had gotten through and she was eating it up. She couldn’t grab my hand, she couldn’t voice her thoughts, she had no power to communicate back with me. BUT she was still there – all my love and caring words were getting through to her loud and clear – and she didn’t want them to stop!
Three Lessons for Promoting Healthy Emotions
Finally, don’t ever think that just because someone can’t talk, they also can’t hear or are stupid. Everyone has a mind with things going on in it all the time – however immature those thoughts might be. Treat them as someone made in God’s image with feelings.
Love is a universal language and words have a great impact.
A Practical Idea for Promoting Healthy Emotions
A helpful exercise is to imagine what that person might say if they could talk. For example, the man in the wheelchair might say “I hope she will come over and speak to me.”
My friend died about a week after I visited her. I’m glad I went to visit when I did because I won’t get another chance . I hope that my words to her gave a boost to her feeling of being loved and cherished even while her body was failing.
Over to you now. What has been your experience with reaching out to someone who needs a caring friend?