Honoring Our Pain

Yesterday, my step-mom came by to share some painful news. My step-brother’s roommate (and best friend) passed away in his sleep. He was young – in his 30s – and though he’d led a troubled life, was turning things around. I ache for him that he didn’t have the opportunity to continue his journey. I am sorry for this world that it has lost a kind and generous soul. I grieve for my step-brother, for his loss, for the confusion I’m sure he’s feeling, and for the shock that comes when death strikes so close.

Loss of a loved one is excruciating, but with time, healing is possible. As I’ve achieved healing through my own grief, my appreciation for the journeys and sorrows of others has grown. I know that learning to accept the pain and confusion of grief was essential to my own healing. I remained stuck when I tried to numb and deny it. Only when I allowed myself to brave the full force of emotions, was I able to become whole.

I have this sense that our world needs us to do this. It demands we unplug from the video games and social media, to put down the booze, the food, the porn, the pills – whatever addictions or distractions we’ve amassed to avoid facing our pain (whether it is the pain of loss, the pain of living in the midst of so much hate and violence, or the pain of feeling powerless against ignorance, corruption, and greed) – and allow ourselves the privilege of hurting. The world needs us to heal.

The world needs us to look within ourselves and admit to all our disappointments, failures, and losses, to embrace powerlessness, to make friends with guilt, and then show it the door, to walk through the valley of doubt and confusion and lost identity because it is only when we reach the far side of all these things that we genuinely understand compassion and empathy.

When we can honor our pain, and heal the brokenness in ourselves, we begin to heal our world.

A sorrow shared is sorrow halved; but a joy shared is multiplied

(Swedish proverb)

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