I read an article on the “Ring Theory” a few years ago and its has been something I have tried to practice in my own life. The creator says it can be used for almost any crisis. Medical, legal, financial, romantic, even existential. Below is their example:
“Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie’s aneurysm, that’s Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie’s aneurysm, that was Katie’s husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of Susan’s patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.
Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.
Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support.”
The dumb comments I’ve received mostly are insensitive, not necessarily falling into this category. But I think M. has been hit with many of them. Comfort IN, dump OUT. Since he is seen as my main support system, I think sometimes people forget how much he needs the support. So in our example, it would be me and Matt in the center circle, our parents, brother and closest friends in the next and their support system in the next. We don’t have the capacity to comfort others. We’d like to, but it’s just not manageable right now. But that doesn’t mean our family and friends don’t need comfort and I hope their larger circle can help them.
You can read the full article here. I’ve always found it helpful. If you are looking for ways to support loved ones going through loss, or are dealing with loss don’t know how to express comfort, I highly recommend a read. Save the link and keep it on file.