I use a pressure cooker when canning some things from the garden. It’s the only way to ensure food safety for low-acid, low-sugar foods.
It took me awhile before I could work up the courage to use that contraption-when a pot comes with warning labels about “check to make sure seal is intact before every use” and “always be certain pressure cock is seated properly and working”-well, that’ll make you think twice about how much you want canned beans come winter.
I imagined all kinds of awful scenarios the first time I fired up the stove under that big cooker. But none of them came to pass. Sixty minutes later and all was well.
I’ve thought a lot about my pressure canning days recently and how that pot is uniquely created to allow just enough steam to escape to keep it from exploding. Sure, it gets mighty hot (that’s the point-to kill the bacteria) but not so hot that it bursts into lethal metal shards all over the kitchen.
I feel like so many of us (bereaved parents or not!) are like that pressure cooker-boiling and roiling with heated emotions getting hotter and hotter and threatening to explode.
Some of us do.
It’s messy or even dangerous.
I’ve thought about how critical that relief valve is to the proper function of the pressure cooker and how people need relief valves too.
Some of us find relief through hobbies or exercise or journaling or praying. But many of us can only relieve our sense of building pressure by talking to another person.
We need to be HEARD and SEEN in order to let off steam.
We need someone to be the relief valve for our pent up feelings so they don’t spew uncontrollably over everyone and everything.
So when you are thinking about what YOU can do for someone going through a tough time, here’s a thought: Offer to meet them and let them talk. Just let them say whatever they need to say without correcting them or judging them or steering them toward safer topics of conversation.
Offer appropriate comments now and then so they know you are paying attention but let them empty their hearts of the pent up steam of strong emotions.
Then keep all the secrets they shared in your own heart. Don’t spread them around to others and don’t use them later as ammunition or leverage.
Listening is love in action.
Providing a safe space for a heart to let go is one of the best gifts of all. ❤