I have been glued, like many of you, to the news. Watching with horror a dictator who has freaking gone off his f***ing rocker. I’ve had a million emotions about this situation. How is this happening? And, of course it’s happening.

At this same time, I’ve also watched with tears in my eyes, the beauty and compassion of the world.

Last night I took my eyes off the news to see if I could find something else to watch. I decided to watch the cold open of SNL. Powerful.

But this is the way of the world. Ugly. Painful. Beautiful. All at the same time.

I’ve thought a lot about how easy isolation, mental illness and fear can create so much horror … even in our own country.

Look, there is no excuse for he-who-does-not-deserve-a-name to behave in this horrific way – even if he has a “mental illness” (as the news keeps talking about). And, while a mental health diagnosis is no excuse for bad behavior – most people with mental health issues do not behave badly and I don’t like it when we make one big lump of the phrase “mental illness.”

I don’t know about you, but I have those in my sphere that have mental health diagnoses and I personally have not been really adept in saying the right thing or supporting them in the right way. So, while watching this horror, I started to think about things to say to my family and friends when they call me with a problem. My goal should be to listen, rather than solve (the latter is a tough trait for me)! Here’s my list. Please add as you like:

  1. Do you want to talk about it? Even when I’m not sure I know what someone is going through, I hope this sentence lets them know that I can listen without judgment and that they are not alone. Remember: one can feel alone even when they are not alone.
  2. What can I do to help? Sometimes we just don’t know what we need or what will help. When my mom died and had three very little kids. I knew I needed help but I couldn’t verbalize it. It often helped when people just helped.
  3. How are you coping? There’s nothing like validation and comfort. This sentence is like a big bear hug.
  4. I’m here for you or You are not alone. Don’t add … “if you need me.” They need you. Just say those four words. Or add, “no matter what.” These words can be incredibly relieving to hear and lets them know that they are not battling the situation on their own.

Watching the insanity in Ukraine has made me think even more clear-eyed about what I can do in my own backyard. To help, take in, care for, and love not only others, but myself.

Let’s try to bring compassion and comfort to others (and ourselves) this week.