I read a meme on social media that struck a chord with me. It said, "When you can't look on the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark." It dawned on me how often we look at the sadness and pain of others and immediately begin trying to comfort them and make them feel better. We give them comfort food, regale them with stories, or take them to movies--anything to distract them from the pain of what they're experiencing. The thing is, often such distraction techniques are counterintuitive. Pain has to be dealt with before it dissipates. Sometimes the best thing you can do is provide companionship to someone who is struggling so they have the added support to deal with it.
One of the most painful things I have ever experienced was losing my newborn daughter. Regardless of the fact that she lived outside my body for less than a day, I knew her. I had spent months dreaming about how her life would go and all the experiences I wanted to share with her. I could see everything in my mind's eye--so perfectly it was almost as though it really existed. Not only did I lose my baby but I lost those dreams of her.
One of the main reasons I was able to deal with my grief in a timely manner was the great support I had from friends. I had spent the past couple of years working as a residence counselor with emotionally disturbed children. Consequently, most of my friends were social workers and psychologists who were used to dealing with big, painful problems in their clients. I had people around me who were strong enough to listen, and they were strong enough to just sit with me in my pain. Having that level of support when I was feeling so much discomfort gave me the courage to face it and deal with it.
It is not easy to allow someone else to feel pain. We are so connected--especially to our friends and family members--that we can feel their pain on an empathetic level. It is natural to want to help them stop hurting. Understand that pain is not something that needs to be fixed. Healing it requires accepting its place in your life and allowing beauty to evolve from it in its own time.
Allowing the pain and sadness of others is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. By sitting with them in that pain, you give support while you encourage healing. Do you have the courage required to be a healer?