Y’all Come Back

Banjo_ManMoving from a very rural area in Washington state to Nashville, Tennessee, was a big change for a 19 year old young man. I hadn’t traveled a great deal prior to the move to Tennessee, and so I was incredible naïve as to what Nashville would really be like.

My first day in Nashville, I went grocery shopping. My heart was pounding, wondering how many pig feet would be on the floor or how many hillbillies with two or three teeth (combined) would be playing their banjos while I shopped. Yes, I was THAT naïve.

But the longer I shopped, the more confident I became. For the most part, the grocery store in Nashville had the same kind of atmosphere and food products that I grew up with in Washington state. And when the end of shopping visit yielded no banjos or hillbillies, I began to question my initial assumptions about Nashville.

As my shopping cart approached the checker, she asked me if I had found what I was looking for. “Yes,” I said as I smiled to myself, “I think I just might have.” Life was good again, and the universe had just let me know that everything would be okay.

After I paid for my food, I started walking away with my cart of items, when I heard the checker say, “Y’all come back!” Without any hesitation, I looked back and said, “You too.” We both shook our heads wondering what in the world just happened.
You see, when I grew up in Washington state, the checkers would say, “Have a nice day.” We, the customers, would respond with “You too.” I never thought much about it until my first day in Nashville.

Similarly, we tend to respond to people when they ask us how we are doing. “I’m fine,” we tend to say, even when we’re not doing well. We just say it because that’s what people expect. If someone asked you how you are doing, and you tell them, “Oh, not so good. I have to tell you all the horrible things that are taking place right now,” then you have just violated etiquette. Or the next time you go grocery shopping and they ask you how you are, how would they react if you told them, “Look at my empty wallet or purse and tell me how you think I am doing”? It’s simply not done!

Thinking and talking about positive things are very good things to do. But our language and customs tend to overlook the pain and suffering people go through. And that is not good at all.

Understanding how to react and what to say to those who have experienced crises are important findings in my upcoming book. The key is NOT to get bogged down by the negative, but rather to know what you can say to someone who experiencing pain in their lives. How do you comfort them? What can you say that won’t offend them? How can you help?

The greatest need that most loss victims and survivors have is to feel safe again, and the only way to feel safe again is for them to learn how to trust again. You can’t make someone trust you. Even if you have earned someone’s trust it doesn’t mean they will automatically trust you. Someone or something may have robbed their trust so thoroughly that they have no more trust to give. Trust, and safety, take time. Here, however, are a few recommendations.
1. Be there for them. Don’t just say you’ll be there for them or “If you need anything, please call.” Be there. Take a chance. Show them they can trust you and eventually that trust will be built.
2. If you say you’ll do something for them, do it. Be on time when you say you’ll show up. If you promise something, keep your word. It’s doubly important for those who have experienced loss.
3. Accept them. Don’t tell them they just need to go outside of their own shell, have more faith, or work harder. They need to know they are valued for who they are, and who they are is broken at the time.

By the way, I ended up LOVING life in Nashville and TN, and often wish I could go back to live there!



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