When is it ok to cry at some one else’s bad news?
If a stranger, an acquaintance, a colleague, a friend or family member tells you something sad… Is it ok for you to take ownership of that sadness and cry? Or is it selfish?
An acquaintance of mine is having a very tough time (that’s an understatement!) We get on well and over the next year or so we could become friends. When she told me the situation she is in, with 2 very small children, I started crying. I felt so deeply sad for her and so helpless. But I instantly felt selfish! It’s not for me to cry. It’s not my sadness.
So it got me thinking… Does crying at someone else’s bad news take something away from them? To trivialise it… Is it like wearing a white dress to a wedding? For want of a better phrase: are you ‘stealing their thunder’? What’s more, does it make the situation worse for them?
When I got home that night I couldn’t stop thinking about my acquaintance. How will she cope? How can I help? Is there anything I can do? Ultimately the answer to some of those questions is very little. She has close friends and family around her, supporting her and whom I’m sure are stronger than I am and don’t cry at her sad news.
But what is the correct reaction to someone else’s sad news that you feel touched by? Is it ok to cry or are you stealing their sadness?