I wish I had just said “R U OK?” 39



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Today is R U OK? Day but there are many days I wish I had asked ‘are you OK?’ or taken the time to be there for someone. But the fact of the matter is that so often in our busy lives we put things off. We tell ourselves we’ll do it tomorrow or we’ll do it next week and feel relieved when it’s all under the rug.

But what happens when the rug moves and reveals all the little things you’d left behind? When I think of this day on the calendar, I think about the time I should have asked someone if they were OK. I remind myself I was too young to make that choice but the fact of the matter is that even as I’ve aged, I know that myself and many others are still as reluctant to take those steps, saying to ourselves that the person wouldn’t give you the honest truth anyway.

When I was growing up, I lived in a little cul de sac with a number of other kids. We’d all play together on the street til it got dark. We did that for years. One day I had to move away with my family and I’d often think of those kids and how they were. One day I saw one of the little girls who was my neighbour three doors down. She was now about 16 and working at the local ice cream store. I was 19 at that stage and with my much older boyfriend and his friends. She smiled and I pretended I didn’t know her, I guess I wanted to seem cool. She looked rejected and sad. As she handed me my money, I noticed cuts on her arm. Shocked, I quickly took my money and rushed out. I told my boyfriend and he just laughed, saying it wasn’t my problem.

Fast forward about a year and I received a phone call from my other neighbour. We still caught up and talked every now and then but it was unusual for her to call. She said, “Do you remember Nina? …She killed herself”. I felt sick. I didn’t know how to react. I asked when the funeral was and she said it had already happened. I was racked with guilt, thinking if only that day I had asked how she was and made her feel like she wasn’t alone, she might not have done what she had. She was living with her grandparents and had been all her life, when they found her. I can’t imagine how they felt, just so distraught as their own grandchild had done this and what they could have done. Even to this day I think about her grandparents and how important she was to them. She knew that but we obviously crying out to anyone through her scars.

So today, that is what I think of and how vital those personal questions are, how crucial that smile is to a stranger, and what a hug can achieve. We need to be more kind to everyone, because we’re all in this together. Don’t force an interaction today, but don’t let one slip by either.


Share your thoughts below.

Guest Contributor

  1. Today is “R U OK” day so take a couple of minutes and ask your friends, relatives, neighbors and complete strangers R U OK you never know who’s life you could change.

  2. Don’t be afraid to say No I’m not okay If someone asks you.They are your friends and love you enough to ask.EVERYONE should ask at least ONE person they know even if you think they are okay

  3. Yes sadly i was in this position and still live with it. I worked with a very quiet guy but as i got to know him he was such a great guy i couldnt understand why he wasnt married. I took apromotion but kept in touch. I got very sick and i heard he was in a bad place but i thought he will be ok. He had just lost his Mum and a smart alick at work after promotion had sacked him,( I didnt know this till later). So i live with this today that his answer was to put his head in a gas oven.

  4. A very important day, but we should take time to make sure the people we know and our loved ones R OK all the time

  5. As a pragmatist I can see how shallow people are when they ask “How are you today?” and I answer “I’m dying you know” and they respond “oh, I’m so sorry”. . Actually they don’t know me from a bar of soap so why should there worry?

    Just kidding, when I am asked “How are you today?” I answer “Fantastic for an old bloke” and they don’t know how to answer that as I wonder off with a sly smile on my face. 😉

    1 REPLY
    • I used to a bullet proof smart ass too but have recently found to appreciate I friend asking, R u ok. Not looking for sympathy bet as we reach the autumn of our lives it is nice to that others care to enquire about me as I care to enquire about them

  6. I’m sending a shout out today to anyone on FB on this lovely Starts at Sixty site who is feeling very low,to wish you well and to let you know you are not alone and that what may seem desperate and hopeless now,will pass. We are a little/big community and we may have lots of different views,but we do care about you.

    3 REPLY
  7. But you must also be prepared to LISTEN to the answer – and act on it if necessary. Read between the lines. Try and get beyond the stock answer of ” I’m fine ” but gently.

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