Who knows best?

18 Jun 2016

A friend's husband died several years ago. She is not feeling any different now than she was when he died. She has trouble listening to the news, driving, eating and going to places she used to go with her husband. A few months ago when I found out she was going to the cemetery every month as well as birthdays and anniversaries, I commented that it may be too often.

She looked at me with disbelief, "I don't go once a month I go once a day."

I was speechless. I felt she was undermining herself and would find it hard cope with her daily life. Then I thought who was I to give advice to tell her how to behave. I am not a grief counsellor, yet I felt I knew what was best for her. I wanted to help her but why was I sure my way was the right way. Is there a proper way to grieve?

I also know what it is like to receive advice from a friend who feels they know best and how uncomfortable it made me feel.

I was once in a relationship with a man that none of my friends and family liked. It was a chaotic relationship that I would probably leave one day. One friend in particular would ask every time we met "Have you left him yet?" She would also comment and advise me why I should leave him every time we spoke.

One day I told my friend that while I appreciated her concern, it was my decision and her continual comments stressed me. She had to accept I was doing what I could cope with in my own time.

I eventually did leave my partner but all the 'helpful advice" I was given I saw as negativity and possibly stubbornly stayed longer in the relationship than I should have. I know my friend was convinced she was right but the timing was not right and her continual negative comments put so much pressure on me.

It is hard when we see a friend or loved one making what we consider is a bad decision or not doing anything, that we feel we must impart our knowledge to them. At times this maybe appropriate but at other times it may be harmful.

Why do we sometimes feel we know what is best for someone? Are we confusing our opinions with facts? Sometimes people are so focused on being right and knowing what is best for another person, they lose sight of what the other person needs.

Is there a right way to approach a problem? Or should we be more flexible in our approaches and recognise that there maybe more than way to help someone.


A Moodscope member

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