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【时代周刊】如果朋友经历生离死别, 该如何安慰? | 取经号


导读:雪莉·桑德伯格是Facebook的首席运营官,也是第一位女性董事会成员。两年前,她丈夫意外去世。当她回到公司继续工作,却发现和同事们渐渐疏离。他们很怕在她面前说错话,常常就是客套一番。死亡像是一个禁忌话题,没有人主动提起。我们也经历生离死别,也有认识的人患癌症。应该如何安慰他人?肯定不是说什么 “你一定会好起来的”。


如果朋友经历生离死别, 该如何安慰?



译者:尹子梦

校对:王乐颖

笔记:李林治

策划:朱宇晴


How to talk to a loved one who is suffering

如何安慰正在经受痛苦的人?


本文选自 TIME | 取经号原创翻译


IN THE EARLY weeks after Dave died, I was shocked when I’d see friends who did not ask how I was doing. 

戴夫去世后的几周,每当遇见没询问我近况的朋友们,我都非常讶异。


I felt invisible, as if I were standing in front of them but they couldn’t see me. When someone shows up with a cast, we immediately inquire, “What happened?” If your life is shattered, we don’t. 

我像是隐形了,站在他们面前,但他们却看不见我。如果有人打了石膏,我们会马上问,“怎么了?”。但如果一个人的生活遭到严重挫折,我们就闭嘴了。


People continually avoided the subject. I went to a close friend’s house for dinner, and she and her husband made small talk the entire time. I listened, mystified, keeping my thoughts to myself. I got emails from friends asking me to fly to their cities to speak at their events without acknowledging that travel might be more difficult for me now. Oh, it’s just an overnight? Sure, I’ll see if Dave can come back to life and put the kids to bed. I ran into friends at local parks who talked about the weather. Yes! The weather has been weird with all this rain and death. 

人们一再回避这个话题。我曾去一位好友家里吃晚饭。她和她丈夫自始至终一直在闲聊。我一边听着,一边暗自困惑。有朋友发邮件邀请我飞往他们的城市,在活动上发言,但他们却避而不谈现在我出差难度加大。“噢,只是过一夜吗?好,我去看看戴夫会不会活过来哄孩子们上床睡觉。”我在公园里碰到跟我讨论天气的朋友。“没错!天气怪极了,这么多雨,这么多生离死别。” 


Many people who had not experienced loss, even some very close friends, didn’t know what to say to me or my kids. Their discomfort was palpable, especially in contrast to our previous ease. As the elephant in the room went unacknowledged, it started acting up, trampling over my relationships. If friends didn’t ask how I was doing, did that mean they didn’t care? My friend and co-author Adam Grant, a psychologist, said he was certain that people wanted to talk about it but didn’t know how. I was less sure. Friends were asking, “How are you?” but I took this as more of a standard greeting than a genuine question. I wanted to scream back, “My husband just died. How do you thinkI am?” I didn’t know how to respond to pleasantries. Aside from that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln? 

许多没经历过失去的人,即使是一些十分亲密的朋友,也不知该对我和孩子们说些什么。特别和从前的轻松自如相比,他们的不自在更加明显。这事情就像是房间里那只一直被忽略的大象,渐渐发狂,破坏着我的人际关系。如果朋友没问我最近过得怎样,那就表示他们不在乎吗?我的朋友、合著者兼心理学家亚当·格兰特说,他相信人们想要谈论此事,但不知怎么做。但我却没那么确定。朋友们问,“最近怎样?”而我认为这更像标准化的问候,而不是真心询问。我想朝他们尖叫,“我丈夫刚死。你觉得我最近怎样?”我不知如何回应客套话。“除此之外,演出怎样,林肯太太?”


At first, going back to work provided a bit of a sense of normalcy. But I quickly discovered that it wasn’t business as usual. I have long encouraged people to bring their whole selves to work, but now my “whole self ” was just so freaking sad. As hard as it was to bring up Dave with friends, it seemed even more inappropriate at work. So I did not. And they did not. Most of my interactions felt cold, distant, stilted. In the moments when I couldn’t take it, I sought refuge with my boss, Mark Zuckerberg.I told him I was worried that my personal connections with our co-workers were slipping away. He understood my fear but insisted I was misreading their reactions. He said they wanted to stay close but they did not know how. 

一开始,重新工作给我了一丝回归正常的感觉。但我很快发现一切并不如常。一直以来,我鼓励人们全身心投入工作,但现在我的“全身心”悲伤得可怕。跟朋友谈及戴夫已经非常困难,工作的时候提起好像更不合适,所以我没有。他们也没有。我的大多数互动是冷淡、疏远和不自然的。当我撑不住的时候,我向老板马克·扎克伯格寻求慰藉。我告诉他我担心自己与同事们的关系正在变得越来越疏远。他理解我的担忧,但坚持认为是我误解了他们的反应。他说同事们想与我保持亲近,只是不知道该怎么做。


The deep loneliness ofmy loss was compoundedby so many distancing daily interactions that I startedto feel worse and worse.I thought about carrying around a stuffed elephant, but I wasn’t sure that anyone would get the hint. I knew that people were doing their best. Those who said nothing were trying to not bring on more pain; those who said the wrong thing were trying to comfort. I saw myself in many of these attempts—they were doing exactly what I had done when I was on the other side. 

这么多生疏的日常交流,加重了失去丈夫带来的深刻孤独感,我开始感觉越来越糟。我曾想随身带着毛绒大象,但我不确定有人能够明白我的意思。我知道他人已经尽力了。那些什么也没说的人,尽可能不带来更多伤害;那些说错话的人,试图安慰我。在他们所做的尝试中,我看到了自己——我曾经和他们一样,他们不过是在做我以前会做的事。


I thought back to a friend with late-stage cancer telling me that for him the worst thing people could say was, “It’s going to be O.K.” He said the terrified voice in his head would wonder, How do you know it’s going to be O.K.? Don’t you understand that I might die? I remembered the year before Dave died when a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, I thought the best way to offer comfort was to assure her, “You’ll be O.K. I just know it.” 

我记得有一位癌症晚期的朋友曾告诉我,对他来说,人们说的最糟糕的话就是“会好起来的”。他说自己脑海中会响起可怕的声音:“你怎么知道会好起来的?你不知道我可能会死吗?”我记得戴夫去世前一年,我的一个朋友查出癌症。那时候,我觉得安慰她最好的方法就是向她保证,“你会好起来的。我就是知道。”


Then I dropped the subject for weeks, thinking she would raise it again if she wanted to. 

之后几周我都没有提起这个话题,想着她如果希望谈谈,自己会再提起的。


Recently, a colleague was diagnosed with cancer, and I handled it differently. I told her, “I know you don’t know yet what will happen—and neither do I. But you won’tgo through this alone. I will be there with you every step of the way.” By saying this, I acknowledged that she was in a stressful and scary situation. I then continued to check in with her regularly. 

最近另一位同事也查出患有癌症,我用了不同的处理方法。我告诉她:“我知道你还不清楚即将发生什么,我也不知道。但你不会独自承受这一切。我会一路陪在你身边。”通过这些话,我承认她压力很大、担惊受怕。随后我会时常了解她的病情。


As people saw me stumble at work, some of them tried to help by reducing pressure. When I messed up or was unable to contribute, they waved it off, saying, “How could you keep anything straight with all you’re going through?”In the past I’d said similar things to colleagues who were struggling, but when people said it to me I discovered that this expression of sympathy actually diminished my self- confidence. What helped was hearing, “Really? I thought you made a good point in that meeting and helped us make a better decision.” Bless you. Empathy was nice, but encouragement was better. 

当看到我在工作上跌跌撞撞,有些人想通过给我减压来帮我。当我把工作搞砸或没能有所贡献时,他们并不在意,还说,“你经历这些,又怎么可能把一切做好呢?”以前我会对正在挣扎的同事说类似的话,但当人们这么对我说的时候,我发现这种表达同情的方式实际上削弱了我的自信心。对我有所帮助的话该是这样的,“真的吗?我觉得你在会上说得很好,帮我们做了个更好地决定。”祝福你。同情固然好,但鼓励更棒。


I finally figured outthat I could acknowledge the elephant’s existence.At work I told my closest colleagues that they could ask me questions and they could talk about how they felt too. One colleague said he was paralyzed when I was around, worried he might say the wrong thing. Another admitted she’d been driving by my house frequently, not sure if she should knock on the door. Once I told her that I wanted to talk to her, she finally rang the doorbell and came inside. 

我最终发现,自己可以正视这个问题。上班时我告诉最亲近的同事,他们可以问我问题,也可以说说他们的感受。有个同事说,和我在一起时他觉得不知所措,担心自己可能会说错话。还有个同事向我坦白她时常开车经过我家,但不知道自己应不应该敲门,直到我告诉她我想跟她说话时,她才终于按响了门铃,来到我家里。


When people askedhow I was doing, I started responding more frankly. “I’m not fine, and it’s nice to be able to be honest about that with you.” I learned that even small things could let people know that I needed help: when they hugged me hello, if I hugged them just a bit tighter, they understood that I was not O.K. 

当别人问我最近怎样的时候,我开始更加坦率地回答他们。“我过得不太好,但能坦白地跟你说出来,挺好的。”我懂得了即使是细节也能让别人知道我需要帮助:当他们跟我拥抱打招呼时,如果我回抱得更紧一点,他们就知道我很难过。


Until we acknowledgeit, the elephant is always there. By ignoring it, those in pain isolate themselves and those who could offer comfort create distance instead. Both sides need to reachout. Speaking with empathy and honesty is a good place to start. 

直到我们承认前,大象一直在那里,而选择忽略,只会使那些处在痛苦中的人孤立自己,与那些能提供安慰的人产生距离。双方都需要增强交流。坦诚相待就是好的开始。

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