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How to properly deal with bad news
The word properly in the title suggests there is a right way at all. I don't think that is true. What I do think is that there are better ways than others to deal with bad news. All bad news is not the same. As simply as possible I think there are two main groups of said topic: the kind we know is coming before-hand and the kind that takes us by surprise. Does each kind merit a unique reaction? How, for example, do you deal with the news that someone close to you has been diagnosed with a terminal illness with only an estimated timeframe? In contrast, how do you deal with the death of that very same person in a car accident?

Coming to grips is necessary to both. But what are the methods by which we come to grips with life-changing bad news? By our nature we want to ignore it, we want to pretend it never happened and retreat into a fantasy realm. But that's not an answer, no, that will only guarantee a haunting later. But is partial denial such a bad mechanism if it allows us to slowly face the facts at our own pace?

What does bad news require from us? A tough gut? Direct action? Tears? Is it situational or will there be a clear answer when it comes? How do we best address our feelings on the matter while still maintaining the parts of our life that we can't retreat from? How do we live up to the personal responsibility we have after hearing bad news when all we really want to do is hibernate under our beds until spring blooms and the world intrinsically looks better? And maybe above all else, how do we truly read our feelings? Feelings are of the airy habit of not forming into words until well after an event. Saying truly how you feel right now is an impossible task. But to actually figure it out enables us to change it, to alter our state of mind and emotion to a place we want it to be.

There is no good way to handle bad news. But it must be done. The first day is the worst. The first week is the worst. The first month is the worst. Might that be the best thing to think about? That tomorrow we will wake up with a new pair of eyes and a new outlook on the matter? Everything feels better with time. But no, that security doesn't help in the wake of bad news, it only draws more attention to the present ache. How important is getting out of our mind? Don't people always eat ice cream after a break up? What about a nice long run that sweats the tears out? What about working a little bit harder on the tasks in front of us? All of those seem like good mechanisms, but they all also might be abused and turn into the wrong and dangerous kind of distractions.

There's probably no universal answer, but wouldn't it be nice if there were?
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Latest Post: September 9, 2009 at 11:26 PM
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