Channel: The Productive Muslim Podcast
You're listening to the productive Muslim podcast season four, Episode Five
Assalamu alaikum productive Muslims. Welcome to the show. I'm your host, my friend, my roof and I am back with an episode from the productive Muslim podcast. This episode today is a second part of an interview that we had last week. So what happened last week is that we had joining us on the show, sister, Asma Hussain, She's the author of the book a temporary gift, which speaks about reflections on love, loss and healing. So in last week's episode, we spoke about how to deal with grief. So if you haven't listened to that one, then you can still do so by heading over to our website, productive Muslim podcast.com. And looking out for Episode Four under season four. So in today's
episode, we take another angle on the topic of grief by speaking about how to support a grieving person. So when someone in your life has lost a loved one, many of us are unsure or even uncomfortable on how to support this grieving person, even if we have the best of intentions. So it's like do I visit? What do I say? What if the person does not want to see anyone or I don't want to be awkward. So all these concerns floating our minds. And so in this episode, we hope to address these concerns and help you and empower you to be the best source of support. Plus, the things that we speak about in this episode is not just limited to supporting a grieving person. But I've also
found it to be something that has been of benefit to support our family and friends who are going through difficult times in their life and in need of support. Like say, for example, they've been diagnosed with an illness that went through a difficult birth and etc. So I hope you find benefit from this episode. So please do enjoy this episode with asthma Hussain. Assalamu, alaikum. Asthma, how are you? Michael? Sir, I'm well, how are you? hamdulillah. Well, well, welcome back to the show. We had you earlier to speak about dealing with grief. And now we're we want to hear more about how to actually support people who are dealing, who are going through Greek grief. And I think that's
also an equally important topic, especially since if we don't experience that then we'll also have, we will most likely have somebody in our life who is going through that. So, I mean, where did where do we start with that? I mean, how does they
Of course, like, we are definitely going to experience it in our own lives. And at the point in even if we don't, or if we're not at a point that we have experienced it, we are also going to have friends and loved ones who will experience it. And I think it's really important for us to be able to provide that support to them. And it makes a big difference in somebody's healing journey when they have the right people around them supporting them. So it's definitely a topic that I think is really important.
What I found, like absolute number one for me, and this is for me, is just being for somebody to just be present in your life to support you. And what like what I found, it's kind of awkward to talk about. But when I like when my husband passed away, there were people in my life who I remember very clearly who were there for me, and who were consistently there for me and even continued to be there for me now, even though many years have passed. And there were people who sort of drew themselves away, and I don't think it was
I don't think they necessarily meant to but I think it was more of they didn't know how to deal with me dealing with grief, it was easier for them to kind of take a step back. And like I don't hold grudges against anyone because it's always like, it is difficult to be there for somebody who's going through something painful. But like the people who helped me the most were the people who were just there, you know, physic just physically there, or even like, virtually there sometimes. And consistently, like I had a friend, I had a friend who would visit me every two weeks, like every two weeks on a Friday or something like that, like it was something that she had scheduled. And even
though she was busy, you know, she was working, she had her family, but she took that time out. And we knew and she would tell me that I want to visit you every two weeks on you know, on Friday, just just to be there for me and and like that was something that was something really, really helpful to me because it gave me something to look forward to because when you're in the state of grief and you you're kind of just absorbed in yourself without anybody around you it can get really, you can get to a like a mental space that's really unhealthy. Yeah, no you can you can be absorbed by your darkness. Almost. So can I pause you there and ask? Like you're saying that when you're going
through grief whenever
person is going through grief, it's like, other people's presents are appreciated. But then when when we actually see the situation, a lot of people going through grief, they feel like they feel paralyzed. And like when people do want to go speak to them, they don't seem very receptive to it. So then it kind of gives up the idea that maybe they don't want to be around people, they just want their privacy in this space, which is something that's, you know, common to think about when you think, okay, someone's going going through grief, maybe we should just give him some space, yet, you're saying something different, which I'd love to hear more about, like the other perspective,
for sure. And I think, I think there's also merit to that, like, you don't, obviously, you don't want to intrude on someone's life, right.
And even if you even if they tell you, I don't want visitors, right, if someone tells you, I don't want visitors, then of course, you should respect that, because that's somebody's home that you're going into write, yeah.
But you can still be there for somebody, even if you're not physically there, even if that just means checking up on them with text messages.
Or, you know, emailing them, like, you know, things that you come across that you think that would, you know, help them like people would send me like a Hadeeth or, or verses from the Quran that they thought would help me and I appreciate all of those things. And that's just, and you can still be consistent without being physically there. You know, but not a lot of people have the patience to do that, especially when you're texting somebody, and then you you never get a shot. Yeah. And I want to tell you, like, for me as a widow in that in those early days, like people would text me, and I wouldn't respond, or I would respond, like, literally a week later, just saying thanks. Or, like,
because you're, again, you're in the space where you don't even understand your own emotions and like, your, your, your your last, but having those people on the outside that are consistently, you know, encouraging you, even if you're not in a space where you're able to respond, you know, like, you know, and you recognize that they're there to help you. You know, and one of my like, one of the things that I've talked about before I've written about before is like, just be patient, like you as an outsider, you don't necessarily know exactly how they're feeling. but be patient. You know, a lot of people, they'll send like two or three texts, and then never receive a response. And they'll be
like, okay, whatever they're not interested. And then you should never text them or call them or see them ever again. No, that's not right. Like, we have to be patient and wait until that person is receptive enough to actually have a conversation with us or whatever. So we can be supportive in whatever,
whatever avenue that we're able to, whether it's being physically there for somebody, whether it's being there, just giving them a call here and there to check on them, sending them a gift in the mail, whatever it is, like, whatever it is that you're capable of, and whatever it is that they have that you think they will be receptive to, there's always a way to be that supportive friend. Yeah, that's true. I think earlier when we were discussing about this, you, you you also mentioned, I think I read it somewhere in which like, you know, you can't just go up to a grieving person and say, Isaiah, and you know, if you need my help to let me know, because maybe they don't know what
they need. Yeah. And then it's like, they don't respond back. So then we get the idea that oh, well, maybe they're not interested. Yeah. Or they don't need anything. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. But he said, sure. For sure. For sure, like 100%. Because anytime, anytime that somebody said to me, let me know if you need any help. Yeah, I would like 100%. Or maybe 99.9% of the time, I'd be like, No, I'm okay. I'm dilla. Like, because that's, that's sort of our automatic response. And I think that it's hard for people to ask for things. But does that really represent the reality? Like, no, you don't need anything? No, no, it doesn't. It doesn't. So you definitely need like people in your life, even
if you even if you have nothing to give, even if you have nothing physical to give somebody. Number one is they that person needs people in their life, people who care, right? But also, like just practical things, like when somebody is going through this like immense grief. They don't, they don't want to cook, they don't want to clean they don't want to sometimes they have a hard time taking care of their kids. You know, there's so many things that you that you that you struggle with. And when somebody comes in, somebody comes to visit you and they bring you food, and you end or they bring you like activities for your kids to do or they bring you
are they they come to your house and they help you like clean up or just like these really, really practical things are so helpful. And they and we shouldn't wait for people to request help of us because the reality is, those people aren't gonna ask for help. Yeah, they're not gonna ask for help.
Right? Like, even though you're in your you're in the state of grief, like you're still aware that you don't want to burden someone else. Again, if it's awkward to ask for help. Can you please come
Give me food and this and then inside that. Exactly. Doesn't that feel so strange to you even? He does? He does maybe because like you fear that Oh, we'll have to say, Oh, no, sorry. I'm so busy today and this and that. And it's like, oh, well, we're asked to start off with exactly so you fear rejection, but you also fear that, like, you're gonna burden someone. Yeah. So these are things they should be offered, like, when you, you come you give them something.
I always say bring food, food, to me, food, offered to take care of their kids offer to like babysit for two hours while they go rest or, or whatever. Just like the practical things are the most important things I find.
So yeah, definitely. That's something that's something that you should keep in mind. And one other thing, this is a little bit unrelated, but it just popped into my mind. Yeah. And this is like, this is, this is a very specific example. But based on the example, I feel like we can generalize a little bit. So I remember like, after my husband passed away, even like a few months into, into my widowhood, even like a year, even two years into my widowhood, people would invite me to events. And like on the invitation, it would say, no kids allowed. And, like the moment that I saw that statement, no kids allowed, I would automatically RSVP No, automatically. Because to me that that
indicated to me that there was a lack of understanding from that person, because they didn't think about me, they didn't think about the fact that I'm a single mom, and that I can't necessarily leave my child with somebody, you know, maybe once in a while I can I can find somebody to leave my kid with. But sometimes I can't. And that's the reality of being a single parent. Great. So it's just this idea of, when someone when somebody loses somebody in their family, for example, like you have to be cognizant about the fact that their life has changed. And that you when you're including them in something, you need to include them as they are, you know, you need to make your event or
whatever, and inclusive. If you want them there, you need to make it an inclusive space for them and you need to consider
usually consider how best to make them feel welcome. Because even till now till now, and it's been like, over four years, whenever I see an event that I'm invited to, and it says no kids allowed, I always feel just like, I always feel repulsed, to be honest with you, because I feel like people haven't given thought to having me there. So are you when when you say event, do you mean like friends gatherings? Or do you actually yeah, event event not are not an event? Right? Because I understand that like an event. You can't necessarily have children there. And that's or like a professional event. That's that's something different. But yeah, I should have clarified I'm sorry.
But I mean, like, it's like a friends gathering. And they'll say like, sometimes they'll say such silly things you'll even. And I don't I don't want to pinpoint anybody. But they'll say things like, leave your kids with their dads or something, you know, and like, they'll they'll just say it and they don't. They don't even think they don't even think that maybe I should edit my words. You know what I mean? Like, there's just a sense of like, not being aware of people's situations, you know what I mean? And it's just so what if so what if, like, someone had an event with all their friends, but there were no kids, but they messaged you privately and said, Hey, I know that's not possible.
Well, you can feel free to Yeah, then then I would kind of Yeah, yeah, for sure. I would appreciate that. They actually took the time to think about me specifically, if they want me there, you know, the friend of mine who wants me there.
So they take time to actually contact me and say, You know what? Your daughter's welcome, for example. Yeah. And like, the reason I bring that point as up is that, like, sometimes, it's not convenient to accommodate people, you know, and it's not just like single parents. It's just, you know, anybody that's gone through grief, sometimes it's hard to accommodate them. It's hard to welcome them because we feel awkward. Yeah, they make us feel uncomfortable. Yeah, they make us their grief makes us feel uncomfortable. Yeah. And that's, to me, that's it that reeks of selfishness, you know, that we don't want to feel uncomfortable. So we would rather just not have
their or we'd rather not be a part of their life or not, like, get in touch with them because they make us feel uncomfortable. Yeah, yeah. And that's, you know, it's sad, because
not only does that person need us, you know, and being there for somebody who's going through something difficult is an act of worship. That's true. It's an act of worship. And it's like automatic, almost giving you an opportunity to, to perform this act of worship that we don't always have, we don't always have those kinds of opportunities. So we're ignoring that opportunity, but you know, you're going to be a help to them, but it's also going to be a help to you because when you're there for people who are experiencing difficult like a difficult situation, you grow as a person as well. You know, your abilities and your communication and your your thoughtfulness all of those.
things, those things about your character grow and improve. So there's nothing for me like when I think about there's no such thing as I'm helping somebody, because when you help somebody, they're also helping you whether whether you realize it or not, you know, like, like the people who were there for me in my life and who are still there for me, I think that I benefited from it, but they also benefited benefited from it. Yeah. Because they took advantage of that opportunity to become a better person to engage in the act of worship. Yeah. So you're still like, pretty much from what you're saying, it's like, Okay, well realign your intention and see that you're not you. You're not
just going visiting them, or you're not being a part of their life, because you just want to help them. But rather, it is an act of worship to help someone in distress. And you also grow as a result of that. And you get real rewards from Allah, smart Allah and not. And not just that. I mean, say you also come to a time in which you need people. If you're not there for people when they need you, then how do you expect them to be there when you need them? Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And that's not to say that, yeah, that's not to say that's the reason we do it. But it's just kind of like, it's a reality check. Exactly. It's just the way things work. And at some point, you are going to need
people, like, at whatever point in your life, everybody comes to a point where they need people, they need somebody else, you know, so it's having that, that humility, to almost say like, today, it's not me. It's somebody else that needs help. But tomorrow, it's going to be me who needs help? Yeah. So. So yeah, so we would, yeah, so so if we were to put this Okay, so now, a person has the right intention. But if we were to kind of put this into like, practical, like how to make this happen, I know that earlier, you were speaking about just being in touch with people virtually. But if you are able to go there in person, and you know that you will be welcome. Because you're, you're
good friends with them. And you've always, you know, been good friends with them before they had the before they were going through this difficult time. And so you know, that your prisons would be welcome. So how would you actually go about with making something happen or like being consistent with something?
I don't think it's that hard. I think that if you if you're open with somebody, and you tell them, you know, I want to see you every x amount of time,
or can we make a date to meet like, once a month, even, or whatever you're able to do, right? And then so that person knows to expect you and knows that you're going to be a constant in their life.
And it could be once a week, if you guys are neighbors, for example. Or it could be once every two weeks, or once a month or whatever.
But that consistency is the most important thing, the most important thing is it's not just coming once in a disappearing for sure, like a year, even when a year goes by that you're still somehow you know, consistently checking up on them, or, or even to, like, I'll tell you, like, even one year after my husband passed away, I was still, even after an entire year, I was still grieving, like a lot. And I was still, I still had a really hard time. And it wasn't even until maybe two years after that I was able to kind of, like stand on my own two feet and just feel like I was emotionally in a much better place. Right? It's like, healing happens gradually, very gradually, you know. And we
don't necessarily even feel it while it's happening. But sometimes it takes much longer than you then you think, you know, or you you will assume like, Okay, well, this happened like three months ago. So this person must be over it. But that's not true. You know, that you you have to be that kind of friend who who knows what's happening. When you're there consistently, that person is going to feel more comfortable to confide in you and say I'm going through something difficult. You know what I mean? And I read this really, really amazing articles talking about how, how to speak to somebody who's going through trauma, without making it about yourself. It was such a great article.
Because sometimes what we do is someone says, Okay, I'm going like, I lost my job. And I'm, like, really worried that I lost my job. And then our response is, oh, yeah, me too. Like, six months ago, I got laid off. And but you know what? Now I find now I found a great job. So you'll be fine. You don't like that kind of response? Where Yeah, so it's like, just, yeah, we don't want to dicey with them or exactly, you're not empathizing with them, and you're not, you're not being present with them with their emotions, right? Because the reality is, it probably will be fine, you probably will find something else or you're probably will emerge from the trauma or whatever. But that person
doesn't need you to say that that person needs you to be with them and to be like that, that support for them to what would they say in that situation? And
even something as simple as that must be tough. You know, how are you feeling? That must be tough, but keep the conversation about them. You know, don't always say well, I went through something and now I'm fine.
Because that almost like that diminishes their the trauma. So just being aware of how you're speaking to that, you're, you're there for them, and you're listening to them and you don't always like just automatically jump to the advice. You know, like somebody Yeah, we actually get into this mood of giving people advice, because we think, hey, they expressing this because they don't have the right information. But they need advice. So let me give him advice. But advice kind of just makes it. Yeah. Why sometimes sometimes advice is good. Yeah. But it always has to be paired with you actually listening to them, and you actually empathizing with them. Because if somebody comes to
you and tells you, I'm going through a difficult time, and you just you don't engage with that, and you just say, You jumped at me straight away, you don't listen. Yeah.
like, oftentimes, the best of planners have patience, and then you just like, kind of leave them. Yeah, kind of cut it off. Yeah. And I read that that information is valuable, that allows the best of planners and that patience is, patience is a virtue, you should be practicing patience, all of these things are beautiful things to advise somebody, but you can't just advise them in a vacuum. Right? And a lot of people don't, they don't get that you can't just dole out advice as if it's like, like you're throwing out packets of candy to an audience or something. It's like, you have to, you know, you have to engage with somebody to a point where they are receptive to your advice. I
think that advice thing also comes again, from what we mentioned earlier about feeling uncomfortable. When someone say something like that we feel uncomfortable. So be like, hey, let me just throw an advice and close the whole conversation. Yeah, yeah. So I can move on to the next thing that makes us feel good. So it's again, it's like, it's, it's all about us. It's all about us.
Yeah, yeah. Yes, true. So, so pretty, pretty much is like, Okay, well, take the time to see him consistently, be a be a part of their life consistently, and take food, or do things for them that are like the essentials that we as human beings have to do in order to kind of keep our lives going. Mm hmm. Yeah, yeah. I think that that pretty much summarizes it. And I think and of course, your there's going to be more points, because every situation is different. Everybody needs support in a different way. That's true. You You let me know what support you need when you're actually there with them. Yeah, exactly. Like, you'll never know what they need if you're never there. That's true.
Right? So just being present with somebody I think is the most important. It's always and it's the hardest thing. It's the hardest thing, but it's the most beneficial and most rewarding thing. There's I suppose there's a reason why this it's such a rewarding thing, because it's not easy. Yeah, the hardest things are always the most rewarding, right? Yeah. Yeah, that's so true. Well, the inshallah the article that you also mentioned, right, right now about how to speak with someone going through grief, we'll add that into the show notes. You also mentioned how there was a article about six ways to support a reader that you listen to me before the interview. I wrote this. But a
year ago, I think.
And it's just it's it's a little bit of a summary of what we talked about. But there's a couple of extra points as well, that deal specifically with widowhood. So I'll definitely send that to and if your audience's is interested in reading it, it'll be there. Alright, fantastic. So we'll add that in, just like law harassment, we're actually close to the end of the interview again, once again, it has been a pleasure having you on the show. Is there any other final words you'd like to add? Before we wrap up? Welcome. Thank you for having me. I think I've, I think I've reached my limit of talking.
I would definitely I would encourage anybody who's listening to actually read those articles, because there's some really, really amazing points there that are really practical as well. So it'll definitely help you be a better friend, be a better support to whoever in your life is going through something difficult. Yeah, that's true. Because some sometimes like, we we want to do good things, good actions, and we started like, search far away, and, oh, should I do this? Should I do that? But there are opportunities just within our own circle of friends and family? Sure. Yeah. Yeah. You're always gonna find somebody that needs you. Always, you know, and, and it's so hard to think of it
as, as an opportunity as opposed to a burden. You know, but all of these things are opportunities that allow us to have places in our life, you know, to, to elevate us, you know, to give us the opportunity to
perfect one of the the sons of the Prophet, so I sent him you know, like that he was he was there for people when they needed him. You know, he was in his community, he knew every single person's problems he knew.
And he probed with questions when whenever somebody was going through something, or
Yeah, like whenever someone was going through something or even if that person sinned or something, and the
came to the Prophet asking for advice. He would always probe like what happened and, and, and, like understand the situation fully before he ever said anything, you know, he would know who the person in front of him was and what they're going through and what their, their sensitivities were, and everything before he told them before even advice or before he,
before he supported them, you know.
So I think that we can take lesson from that.
So there's one example of
a situation where a man came to the Prophet, a believing mannequin a companion, and he said to him, almost enjoyable, live committed, like a serious sin. And last thing was during Ramadan, he had intercourse with his wife, so during the daytime, so he broke his fast.
And then he like, he came to the prophet to ask him, like, what can I do to make up for it, you know, and he was, he was genuinely, like, distressed that he had committed the sin. And then the Prophet, the Prophet asked him, Are you able to free a slave? And he said, No, like, he just didn't have the, the, the money to do it.
And then he asked him, Are you are you able to fast for two consecutive months? like two months of just continuous fasting? And he said, No, I'm not able to. And then he asked him, can you feed? I think, 60 poor people. And the man said, No. And then, so the prophet like, remained silent. And he, he was, he was thinking about, and they were sitting together. And then somebody brought him a basket of dates, or, or like a, some kind of container of dates. Yeah. And then he asked for the man, where's the man who was asking me that question? And then the men said, I'm here. And then the Prophet told him, okay, take these dates and give them as charity. Give them to somebody as charity.
And then the man said, Is there anyone as poor as me, like, as far as me and my family? Like, there's nobody in my family, right? Like, there's no, there's no one in this entire city that's like, as poor as us as poor as we are. And then, like, the Messenger of Allah, he was like, he was, he was, he was some of his mild, he's,
he's mild until he's like, he's all of his teeth were showing. And then he said, Okay, take it and feed it to your family. So you like somebody came, and he had committed the serious sin. And then like, after all these questions were asked, he actually ended up going home with food, like, as opposed to him having to, like, give charity or to do anything. And that's, that's the power of like, this idea that in the sun, that we have to know who we're talking to, and we have to, we have to understand people in order for us to support them. Yeah, no, it's I love that story so much. It's amazing. It's just like, the mercy of it. You know, it's, it's so beautiful. So that that always
goes back to the point of view having to just be there to be present in order to know how to support somebody, and then we're never going to be there in order to understand them. And then in order to support them the best way and give them the best advice. Yeah, yeah. And it's so hard. It's so hard, because we're living in an age of like social media, and we keep in touch with people on social media, but social media can only go so far. And that we've lost touch with people we've lost, like, actual touch, where we forgot how to be human, we forgot how to be human. And that's, that's the reality. And that's so sad, because when we forget that human element where we actually have to go
and sit with somebody,
like our opportunities to support people are diminished, you know, so
to to get out of our virtual space and actually go into our communities and go into the house, the houses of our friends and our loved ones and be there with them.
Alright, so there you have it, our interview with asthma Hussain on how to support a grieving person. As I mentioned earlier, the previous episode that we had on this topic how to deal with grief is available under season four, Episode Four. So this is what we did last week. I hope you enjoyed this part of the episode. please do let us know what you think by leaving a comment for us over at our show notes. And by the way, as you are there and our show notes, you can find the links to our resources and links that we've mentioned in today's episode, along with how to connect with our guests. So do check that out. And that is all from me for today. I hope to speak to you all
again next week inshallah. And until then, remember, work hard and be sincere.
Today is another friend