By Stacy Ashton, Executive Director
Things without arms and without legs by Liz Argall is one of my favourite web comics, and this strip is my favourite one of all.
“I would like to be angry, then sad, then comforted, then adventure for solutions, then giggles” is probably the best description of how to support someone in crisis, but more importantly, it’s what the person in crisis has asked for.
In this time of shared stress, we lean on our friends and family, but we are also aware that our friends and family are also struggling. Often friends and family think they need to solve problems to feel they’ve helped, even though many pandemic crises will be solved over time and we mostly need comfort from one another to help us get through.
On the crisis lines, we assume you want comfort first, and help finding solutions when you ask for it. When you are reaching out to loved ones for support or they are reaching out to you, the question “are you looking for comfort or solutions?” frees up the space to get and give the right kind of support.
Expressing painful emotions without the requirement to solve them can immediately open you up to feel unexpected moments of peace and joy—even the giggles. Ending a call with humour is not unusual on the crisis lines. There’s a reason why many of the “next steps” identified by callers as being helpful include watching comedy. “Then giggles” offers pathways to accept what you can’t immediately change, and energy to change what you can.