When I was pregnant for the second time, and on the last day of my first trimester, I had a miscarriage. It was devastating, and it took me a longtime to come to terms with this loss. There were many things that were helpful to me during this difficult period, especially the people who gave the gift of their time (babysitting my daughter, sending over their cleaning person, making healthy meals for us, etc.). However, I felt most supported by the women I knew who had also been in my shoes, as I did not have to explain my pain to them. They just got it and helped me to not feel so alone.
(This excerpt is one of my personal stories from my book, Life Transitions: Personal Stories of Hope Through Life’s Most Difficult Challenges and Changes)
During this difficult time, I remember having lunch with a friend and just completely opening up to her about how much I was grieving the loss of this baby, how desperately I wanted to be pregnant again (but also realizing this was probably not going to happen until I was in a better emotional and mental state), how much I wanted to be happy for my pregnant friends (but how jealous and envious I felt towards them as well), how I felt so drained and like didn’t have a lot left to give to my husband and my daughter.
I talked and she listened. I cried and she held my hand. When I had no more left to say and no tears left to cry, she hugged me tightly and somehow I knew that I’d be okay.
A few days later, this same friend called and said that she’d like to babysit my daughter for me for a few hours each week so I could have some time to take care of myself.
To this day, this is still one of the kindest things anyone has done for me. I used the time she gave me to go to therapy, to get support grieving when I need to grieve, and when I was pregnant again, to get help keeping my worry and anxiety with that pregnancy at bay.
I recently thanked her (again!) for all she did for me during that time, and do you know what? She hardly remembered the hours and hours of babysitting and hours and hours of time she gave to me! I think this is partly because this is just who she is as a person, and when she sees a way she can be helpful, she just does it. It’s a no brainer to her.
In the amazing book, On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life by John O’Leary, he writes about being burnt in a fire at a very young age, and the numerous people who came into his life to help support him when he was in the hospital (and beyond). He also spoke about all the people who had a profound impact on his recovery. Often, when he reached out to these same people as an adult, the people who he credits with helping to save his life, they typically didn’t feel like they had done very much at all.
But, that’s the whole message here. That in our day-to-day lives, we could be making an impact in someone’s life, and not even know the extent of that impact. Just by a kind gesture or a hug or telling someone that you believe in them or telling a young burn victim that he was going to make it or telling a devastated young mother that she was going to be okay. It truly makes a difference.
So, this week, when the opportunity arises to help someone out- big or small- just do it, because you may not remember the gesture years from now, but it just might change someone else’s life to the point where they’ll remember your kindness for the rest of their lives.