My husband's uncle passed away this weekend. He was quite elderly, and the death was expected, but even so, this didn't mitigate the pain and loss that many in the family feel, of course. I noticed that as people approach the grieving crying relatives, many will give advice on feeling positive again. Is it because they are uncomfortable around grief and would secretly like the person to feel better for their own sake, or is it sympathy?

Here is another example. One of my cousins is going through a difficult time: cancer, divorce, single parenthood and foreclosure all at once. Whenever we are at family events, nearly everyone feels the need to give her self-help advice --- often that she has not asked for ---- are they self-motivated? Does her situation and seeing her stir up some type of uncomfortable feelings within them or are they really trying to help her?

What do you think?

asked 18 May '10, 19:03

LeeAnn%201's gravatar image

LeeAnn 1

some are trying to help some does not understand the person or the situation that is why it seams ackward. experience and enjoy.

(27 Aug '11, 20:12) white tiger

That's an interesting theory. It's probably true.

Men are more likely to give advice, because their instinct is to "fix it," whereas women are more likely to be sympathetic and listen, rather than giving advice.

Sometimes what seems apparent to an outsider is not so obvious to the person who is having difficulty. The outsider can clearly see what the person is doing wrong, and why they are attracting the troubles they have.

This, by the way, is the basis for the statement, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:3) Which I find one of the more amusing passages in the Bible.

I am reminded of a story I was told once (I assume it was true), of an elderly woman who was visited in the hospital by a couple of strangers. This couple attended to her every need, and six months later, when the elderly woman died, the couple moved into her home, which was located in a wealthy neighborhood. It turns out that the elderly woman had deeded her entire estate over to the couple.

Many people who hear this story are horrified that the elderly woman was taken advantage of that way. What I find more interesting is how two complete strangers could have become more important to her than anyone else she might have had in her life.


answered 18 May '10, 19:13

Vesuvius's gravatar image


edited 18 May '10, 19:54

That story does say a lot, doesn't it? Thanks, Vesuvius.

(19 May '10, 00:31) LeeAnn 1

I like your story Vesuvius was the elderly woman taken advanced of by two strangers or were two strangers there for her and taking care of her when she needed it most. Where were the others that she knew and cared about why were they not there helping. There are so many sides to every story. But I would like to think that they were there for her when she needed their help the most. I still try to believe in the goodness of humanity of people. Very interesting story.

(19 May '10, 05:03) flowingwater

Hi LeeAnn, If self help advice is selfish then what is the purpose of self help books? Also on this website we offer a lot of advice in regards to self help. I do not see anything wrong with it. I feel that what we want for ourselves is what we want for others and we all want to feel good. Sometimes it is uncomfortable because others want to move you pass your sorrow quickly not realizing that you have to deal with it yourself and come to terms with your feelings and experiences before you can move on.


answered 18 May '10, 22:28

Drham's gravatar image


I have often wondered whether many self-help books just parrot other people's nuggets of wisdom (using slightly different language) for their own profit motives.

(18 May '10, 22:40) Vesuvius

You're right, Drham, that sometimes advice is offered out of the goodness of our hearts, such as on this website, but as Vesuvius pointed out, at times there is a motive of profit, such as some of the books and lectures that are out there. I sure agree with you that there is sometimes pressure on the grieving to move past it very quickly.

(19 May '10, 00:38) LeeAnn 1

Of course, there are all kinds of people and all kinds of books offering advice. Surely, by noticing how you feel regarding any kind of information, you'll know if it's good for you or not. But if you have a rigid belief system of dis-belief, in place, you may miss something that could've helped you.

(19 May '10, 03:48) Eddie

That can be true, Eddie. Thank you.

(19 May '10, 21:06) LeeAnn 1
showing 2 of 4 show 2 more comments

I believe LeeAnn that people are trying to console and help the person through an uncomfortable and hurting situation of a time period in their life. Like through death, hardships, sickness; I believe some people really want to help the person they are giving soothing, comforting, and uplifting advice too to help relieve some of the pain if only for a moment or too just let them know that others are here and care about you so you can lend on them for emotional and spiritual support.

Now, some people are nervous and don't know how to react around people who are hurting and are in pain physical or emotionally and they try to move away from around them quickly and others are just it isn't happening to me so it doesn't phase that person at all of what another person is going through.

Now for the self help books that people write it is the same some are doing it really trying to help others, while some are solely for profit, and some are trying to help and achieve profits as well.

It is all in the heart or sole of a person what is there motive for what they do! We as humans we need the comfort and caring from other humans that care when we are in deep sorrow, pain, lonely, stressed about something, sick or just plain going through a hard times. We need one another and we should be there for one another.

I am sorry LeeAnn about your husband uncle and about your cousin all of what she is going through I hope there is healing, financial help, and help for your cousin and even though someone is old that passes away you still love them and even if they have been sick for a while you will mess them when they are gone especially if you loved them and really got a chance to get to know them. And at times it is so hard to console someone who heart seems completely broken and you just don't know how to fix it at the time but I just tell them that Jesus, God and his Holy Angels will see them through this life experience!

Most of the time it is easy to tell someone and hard to go through it yourself. but we do try to help some of us some of the time. You can kind of feel if it is coming from the heart or just words spoken.


answered 19 May '10, 05:27

flowingwater's gravatar image


Welcome back Flowingwater - nice to have your kind words available again :-)

(19 May '10, 11:24) Michaela

Thank you so much, Flowingwater.

(19 May '10, 21:08) LeeAnn 1

I am glad to be back Michaela and thanks for the welcome back. Thanks so much again I am so glad my words are appreciated.

(24 May '10, 01:42) flowingwater

You are so very welcome LeeAnn!

(24 May '10, 01:43) flowingwater
showing 2 of 4 show 2 more comments

I have gained a lot of perspective from your responses so far, in exploring this topic. I am thinking that some are uncomfortable around emotional people, some are just happy and relieved it isn't themselves going through hardship or grief, and some are just genuinely concerned with no selfish motives at all and really want to help. Some are possibly feeling some combination of those things. There might not be just one answer to this question!


answered 19 May '10, 21:21

LeeAnn%201's gravatar image

LeeAnn 1

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