There was a time in my life when I avoided any one who was suffering. Ironic for someone who chose nursing as a career. I didn’t last long as a hospital nurse.
I stopped watching the news.
I became tongue tied when I did try to offer condolences to a friend.
The thought of going to a funeral or wake triggered panic, dread.
Until one day I was sick of avoiding, ignoring, pretending.
That was not how I wanted to live my life! Bad things happen, and that’s never going to change. Kids die. Planes explode. Buildings collapse. Accidents happen. Spouses cheat. Cancer spreads. Evil destroys. We all die.
And I can’t do a damn thing about it.
I can accept it, and share the pain.
So I did. And it didn’t destroy me. Actually, the opposite happened. My spirit became stronger, and my own heavy load seemed lighter, so much less important.
Somehow the act of sharing another’s hardship freed me from my own suffering.
Now, I see burdens everywhere I go. The traffic of my daily encounters reveal so many who suffer.
Whether it’s a headline tragedy, or the quiet grief of a neighbor you hardly know, there are people who are lonely, broken, despairing.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Our burdens become more bearable when we help carry another’s. We become liberated. Our purpose becomes clearer.
Lifting the burdens of another, making the road a little easier – it’s the cure for suffering. It makes you a better person.
People in the midst of terrible, heavy suffering tend to hide it. They want you to think everything is fine. Maybe that’s you right now, you go to work, do your shopping, show up at functions with a smile on your face and the whole time you’re thinking,
I have to do this again tomorrow??? I can’t. God help me. I can’t take it anymore!
The secret for overcoming hopelessness, grief, fear, tragedy? Lose yourself in the service of others. Share the burden. Give some of yours and take some of theirs.
When someone asks you,
What can I do? Is there anything you need? Anything at all?
There is something you can do for me. You have pain. I have pain. If you let me have some of yours, I will give you some of mine.
That’s the miracle of healing. It makes us better.
There will never be a shortage of suffering in this world. None of us truly know the right thing to say or do when tragedy strikes.
The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
It’s ok. Don’t say anything. A hug, a nod, a comforting shoulder to cry on.
Start small. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
You suffer. I suffer. And life goes on. And it is through that suffering we find life.
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
There was a time in my life when I avoided any one who was suffering.
Not any more.
And I’m more than Ok.