Thursday, 12 January 2012

The kindness of strangers (and friends!)

After the monumentally terrible start to the weekend things have started to look up. The night after the break in we stayed with our upstairs neighbours so that we were in hearing distance of the house but able to feel safe for a while and sleep for the first time in a couple of days. My in-laws then came for the weekend and we had a fab trip to the Wychwood Brewery (detailed on my other blog!) which lightened the mood until we had a call from a neighbour with sirens wailing in the background as our house alarm had gone off. After a break in I don’t think there is any worse sound (other than perhaps breaking glass!) than your own house alarm. Luckily all was well and we had a lovely dinner before heading back and sleeping our first night solo and alone since the break in. So far, so good. 

One thing this experience has really helped me to see with more clarity is the kind of things people do that make the world of difference when you’re having a bit of a crisis. I think we all want to be there for our friends, family or even just a stranger we encounter in need through work or our community but struggle to know what to do. So these are a few thoughts on what has really helped us over the last few days:

This might sound really mercenary but someone bringing you something to make you feel better is just so lovely. Some of the best things we have been given were a bottle of whisky from a neighbour who assumed, rightly, we would be on the hard stuff! I was also given a DVD I’ve been wanting to watch for ever and a brand new hardback someone thought I would like. Books are my escape so this is a perfect gift to help in times of trouble. Ben was given a comedy DVD which was amazing light relief for a few hours. Thoughtful gifts say someone is thinking of you and it really means something especially when some of your own precious things have been taken.

Practical help
A spot on our neighbour’s floor was a life saver on Friday night. Ben’s Dad helped us put up a house alarm and our landlord was fantastic in responding quickly to our security needs. The police were kind and sympathetic. People showed the inherent kindness that is around, particularly important when you’ve suffered at the hands of another human being.

There are some people who really know what it feels like to be in your shoes and they are a great comfort. Just someone to tell you that you are doing ok and your response is perfectly normal is a huge help. Some strong people have come out of the woodwork. People you can lean on, who shoulder some of the sadness. No easy task for the person involved but so valuable to the person in need.

Saying what needs to be said
The best responses were from friends who said ‘You need to sleep, stay with your neighbour,’ or ‘Don’t be too hard on yourself for feeling unsafe, it will get better.’ Sometimes you’re in such a tizz that you just need someone to say, ‘Have a cup of tea and just do what can be done.’ I really appreciate those people in my life who can tell me to calm down or anticipate my needs before I can.

Talking about (or doing) something else
Whether it’s a DVD or hearing about other people’s lives it all help to feel more normal again. I had a driving lesson on Monday and my instructor was the perfect combination of empathetic (he had been burgled himself), encouraging (my driving is improving) and taking my mind of it (I could hardly dwell while trying to navigate Oxford in rush hour!).
But most of all it is being there that is the key. A friendly voice on the end of the phone or a smiley face on the doorstep makes everything look a little brighter. Meanwhile each day is looking a little better than the last. Thank you to everyone who has thought of us over the last week. We really appreciate it.

1 comment:

  1. So glad things are looking up a bit for you, Nicola, after your dreadful experience. Most people are so kind and I hope that the kindness can start to outweigh the sheer nastiness of being burgled.