When someone is upset by an event in their life such as the cancellation of a dream vacation, the loss of a pet, the break-up of a romance which you might not have approved of, or any stress caused by something they feel is important, it is NOT your job to tell them they don’t have a right to be upset. I’ve heard folks tell others that they are not the first person to…, so get over it; or say things like I didn’t like him anyway; it was only a pet; or even comparing their plight to another’s and making it trivial.
Anytime someone faces an abrupt change, or feels like things are beyond their control, or faces a disruption to their routine, it can cause stress and feelings of crisis. People react to stress in individual ways, they have different priorities, strengths and weaknesses. No one has the right to minimize another person’s concerns, fears, love, loss or sadness. Supporting someone who is in crisis mode means respecting their feelings and not putting your own feelings first. You may not care for dogs but telling someone who just lost their beloved pet that “it was only a dog” is cruel and thoughtless.
Practice kindness by showing compassion for someone who is suffering. Compassion begins with understanding their feelings, empathizing with them, and the desire to help them survive the stress. Minimizing and ignoring their feelings may be easier for you, but does nothing to help them. Respect their feelings, don’t criticize them. Be there to lend a shoulder or an ear, hold them (literally or figuratively) and let them know you care. Their feelings are important to them, respect that. This also holds true for celebrating accomplishments – it’s a big thing and important, so applaud them loudly and congratulate them without limits.
I’ve been fortunate with the people surrounding me – one of my pussycats was recently very ill (thank goodness he seems to be recovering nicely) and friends and family offered encouragement and showed genuine concern. It really was appreciated.