Every time there is a celebrity overdose or suicide, social media floods with inspirational quotes.
"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."
"Life is short."
"Check up on your strong friend."
Yet two weeks later we all go back to our daily lives, no longer practicing what we preach.
Let's face it, we're all busy. Some days we don't even have time to eat full meals or work out. Some days we don't even know what's going on in our own heads. How could we possibly have the time to know what is going on in someone else's?
And yet, for some people this seems to come so naturally. They remember that the anniversary of your brother's death is coming up. They know what songs or places may be triggers for you. They just 'had a feeling' they should call you and picked up the phone.
How do they know? Most of the time, it's because they've been there.
When someone I know loses a loved one, struggles with a health issue, or feels anxious and overwhelmed - reaching out to them comes naturally to me. Because I've been there.
And while no experience or loss or grief is the same, a lot of the threads are awfully similar. But here's the thing: You can support someone even if you've never been through what they are going through.
You can support someone through addiction even if you've never touched drugs or alcohol. You can hold someone's hand through a loss even if you've never lost anyone. You can sit up all night with someone who struggles with thoughts of suicide even if you've never had those thoughts yourself.
When I lost my brother, it broke my heart that some of my closest friends disappeared during the most difficult time of my life. And it took me YEARS to realize that it wasn't because they didn't care. But because they didn't know what to do or what to say, and they didn't want to do or say the wrong thing.
But how do you know what to say or do when someone is struggling in what feels like unchartered territory? Put yourself in their shoes.
If you just lost someone, what would you need? What would you want? What are the little things you would forget about or just wouldn't have the energy for? Things like:
Everyone is different, so keep in mind that they may not want the the exact same things you do. But it's a great place to start.
So I'm calling B.S. on just saying "check up on your strong friend." Because while sending a "Hey, how are you holding up?" text is something, it's just not enough.