snapshot & whatnot: an elephant, good grief!


…an Elephant @ Samburu National Reserve, Kenya… (photo: VLW)


In Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant’s book, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience & Finding Joy,” the second chapter is entitled Kicking the Elephant Out of the Room. The elephant being the loss, adversity, or whatever huge challenge faces you that everyone avoids talking about when they see you.

After the loss of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg realized she had actually avoided elephants in the room with friends, including a close friend who has multiple sclerosis. When she asked him, “how are you? I mean, really, how are you? How are you feeling?” He responded with heartfelt honesty and appreciation for the opportunity to share how he felt and what was really going on in his life.

This reminded me of my bedfast quadriplegic Papa, who always asked that question, “How are you, I mean, really? How are you, really?” And he really wanted to know. Many visitors & friends left unburdened and comforted because there was no room for elephants in time spent with my Papa.

Here’s to kicking elephants out of the rooms of hurting families, friends & colleagues by acknowledging loss, suffering, adversity and challenges with heartfelt inquiry:

How are you, REALLY????  (I care about you & I’m here for you.)

grace, peace & out-the-door elephants

Virginia : )

p.s. Highly recommend this book! Here’s additional advice from chapter 2:

“When life gives you lemons, I WON’T tell you a story about my cousin’s friend WHO DIED OF LEMONS.”  Emily McDowell

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4 Responses to snapshot & whatnot: an elephant, good grief!

  1. Asking someone how they ‘really’ are is something I try to always ask after I ask the initial question of how are you… because often people think it is a perfunctory (big word ha!) question and don’t know if you do ‘really’ want to know. Often people don’t !
    Then I try to always give them time to tell me…

    Your ‘Papa’ was likely very loved for taking time to always ‘really listen’ ! Diane

    • Virginia says:

      Diane – Amen! You are so right about allowing time & space for people to really let us know how they are. Sometimes we ask, then pointedly look at our watches (defeats the purpose of asking!!) My Papa was very loved because he loved people with the love of Jesus. He couldn’t move anything – only his head – but in his weakness God did miraculous things. (You can find out more about him on the Four Spiritual Secrets blog that i keep up with 2 posts of his writing each week..

      Blessings & so glad to find a kindred spirit in the blogosphere!
      grace, peace & Big Ears (& listening hearts) — Virginia 🙂

  2. TMH says:

    Yep, saw an interview with Sheryl Sandberg and she seemed like a really solid lady.

    • Virginia says:

      Tim – I finished her Option B book awhile back. It’s an inspiring read with solid steps to help folks thru grief & challenges of all shapes & sizes. Highly recommend. 📚🙄📚

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