Sometimes life turns upside down in a heartbeat. One moment of change puts us in a completely different place than we thought we were. It might be the news that we have a serious medical condition, a family break-up, the loss of a loved one or of our job. Or we have a life altering accident, are involved in domestic violence or suffer conditions that cause emotional trauma. Deep inside we know that life can never be as it was but the roller coaster of emotions churns us through shock, disbelief, sadness, anger, fear and depression. It’s at times like these that we really need someone to listen whilst we explore what has happened and how to move forward.
In the past we might have headed off to the nearest church or looked within our neighbourhood for support. Especially if what has happened has impacted us and also our family. It’s not that easy nowadays. People have busy lives. Church doors sometimes have to be locked or we don’t follow a particular religion. And sometimes what has happen really need specialist support. There are some life events that can perhaps only be understood by people who have personal experience of the same things.
That’s when finding a listening ear can help. A listening ear is often someone with counselling skills (but not always) who has direct experience of the same life event. They will be willing to work with you from where you are. They empathise with your feelings and understand your thoughts. However, the key thing they will offer is silence. Their silence whilst you talk. The space they create for you to talk will be non-judgemental, confidential and safe. Occasionally they may offer ideas or comment on your experiences but their key skill is in listening.
People who have listening ears may be called counsellors, volunteers, support workers or many other titles. They may be connected to a voluntary organisation, a holistic centre or a specialist project aimed at supporting specific life events. I’m aware of so many that I can’t mention them all. But here are a few examples: Macmillan Cancer Support, Calderdale Help In Bereavement Service, Women’s Aid. I also offer a Drop – In at my Centre two days a week where you can call in and talk about issues that may have changed your life.
The key to life changing in an instant is not to suffer in silence. Or to feel that you have to soldier on alone. We may sometimes feel that we have lost our sense of community or that people don’t listen to us anymore. Yet there are places and organisation that can offer listening help and support for the emotional challenges of life. Many groups and organisations also provide information to GP surgeries and community centres. Or check with the Citizens Advice Bureau. Take the opportunity to get the listening support you need. Someone out there is waiting to help.