Holding space for someone is an incredibly profound, deeply human experience for the both the giver and the receiver. It is a process in which both souls are witnessed and healed.
It means walking side-by-side with another on their journey without judgment or expectations. It means bringing your whole self to that other person unconditionally.
When we hold space for another, we are walking with them, on their journey. We see the world through their eyes. We allow space for fear, confusion, and exploration without trying to fix anything.
When my mom was sick, I became the person who “held space” for her. One of my brothers often commented that she always cried when I was with her. My husband would tell him it was because I made space for her to express her feelings. She didn’t have to cheer me up about her illness or deny what was happening in her body to protect my feelings. We walked the journey together, facing each day together.
The day she began to transition, she fell into my arms and quietly said “I’m ready to go”. Inside myself I was heart-broken and devastated. But as I held space for my mom, I replied by saying “Ok, mom. I’m here.”
While I was holding space for my mom, others were holding space for me.
My husband and children were holding space for me as I walked this difficult path with my mom. When I'd come home at night they would encourage me go to rest or take a bath.
My friend Rosanna was there whenever I needed to talk and I knew she was praying for us too.
The hospice nurse was holding space for my mom and me and my family, as she guided us on what would come next.
And, our home nurse, Afua, held space for us as she quietly sat in the background as people came and went to say their last good-byes. She was gentle and listened to all the stories that people were sharing about mom.
There are many other ways to hold space for another. Wherever you have an opportunity to listen with your full presence including celebrations!
It may be as practical as going grocery shopping for someone who is sick or shut-in.
Holding space can also mean keeping that person alive in your heart throughout the day and sending prayers on their behalf.
Holding space is the deepest form of listening I have ever shared. It’s the experience of being truly seen with compassion and love.
As a coach, learning to hold space for another is part of the coaching journey, but it has been through having someone hold space for me where I have learned how to hold space for others.
As we move through this Holiday Season, you may be asking what kind of gift you can buy for someone in your life who is going through a difficulty, an illness, or a loss.
You can give the most profound of all gifts by holding space for someone who needs support, uplifting, or reassurance.
Wishing you peace during this holiday season and into the New Year!