How do we handle the pain of others? We absorb it. We hurt. We get ill. We try not to. We know our hurting for them will not cure them, heal them. But maybe it will take some of their pain and ease them just a little? We hope so. We pray so.
We do not pray for a cure. We know we have no control in that way. We do not pray for them to be released from this life of their deep searing pain, be it physical or mental or emotional. We are aware, KNOW, that their life is to be lived–or not–according to their choices, their purpose now. But we feel it. It becomes a part of us, reaching into our deepest essence. No matter what we do, they are the navigator, the captain, of their life, their end, their destiny. Yes, some things happen out of everyone’s control, but we do not grieve for those happenings. They occur sometimes because of others’ choices, simple happenstances.
Realizing another’s pain, feeling it, is not always our choice. We would like to be sympathetic, without having to be empathetic. But that is not how we are wired when someone we see hurting, someone we love, looks at us, connects spirit to spirit. Something in us suddenly is there, with them, a part of them, knowing on a level we do not understand that this is more–so much more than they can carry alone. And so, we let it come to us, come in us, to say, without words, we are here–we are with you–you are not alone. When that happens, between them and us, no words need to be spoken. Hearts, eyes, say all that is needed. Then, then is when we hope they feel the pain less, and the love we want to impart.
One on one, we can touch gently, without holding, a simple connection. In the greater world, the world “out there,” we can try to do something like make sandwiches for the homeless and distribute them, donate blankets to the abandoned or lost animals in the shelter, write letters to change policies that harm people to the people who have the power to change the policies. We can conquer hateful rhetoric by expressing loving words, acting in kind ways, making someone we will never see again smile. It is small, but maybe they will pass on a moment of kindness, a smile, share hope for goodness. That is called doing what you can and where you can, knowing the world cannot be swayed by you alone, but holding onto the hope that combined kindnesses and caring will have that ripple effect until it becomes the change the world needs to fight hate and greed that hurt so many.
We saw our friend, traveled because our spirit felt the need to connect, let him know we cared. He yelled out he wanted to die. The cancer in his bones, his back, is excruciating. He’s considered old, in his 80s. He is a veteran, a father, a grandfather, a good friend–OUR FRIEND. The pain clouds his mind, his age adds to it, the fall he took yet again affects his mind. But when we said, “I love you,” his eyes became clear, looked into ours. He reached for our hand, we quickly took his. He pulled us close, with more strength than was normal. We told him our mutual friend sent her love also. His hand clutched ours tightly as those eyes suddenly knew us, understood. We sent as much strength as our souls had into that hand holding onto ours, as much love as we had without reservation, and opened our eyes to welcome his gaze, his understanding. In that brief, suspended moment in time, long, long, and yet so very short to others, to the world of time, we were one in spirit. Then he left us. He pushed us away with as much force as he’d pulled us close. His hand waved us away. He talked then, almost yelled, to another force, spirit, in the room. Still connected to him, we could feel with an intenseness so strong as to not be denied, the one spirit he spoke to. He begged her to take him, release him from his pain, from this world. The sudden darkness we FELT, the hovering, listening presence was hearing him. We were not afraid even though we knew she was Death, come to listen to him. We waited, listening to him and knowing it was between them. He cried out in pain, we felt the pain, and a nurse walked in. The time of connection with all was gone. We were asked to leave due to his agitation. We went back into his field of vision, kissed his forehead, as his tears wet our cheek from the pain. Again, we told him we loved him, waited. He waved us away once more. We said goodbye, knowing this was now between him and the spirit.
Our stomach roiled, we had to find a bathroom and quickly. Once there, the pain we had absorbed from him was wretched from us as we vomited and vomited. It hurt to get rid of it, but at least some of it we had taken from him was now hurtling down the toilet bowl. It was a relief for us, and we hope, for him. But what we had seen, experienced, will never be able to be expelled.
This happens to us. It is part of us. We have tried to reason it away, rationalize it, steel ourselves against the pain of others so we do not become ill, so we do not think and traverse planes of space and time to be with them over and over. We continue to feel them after we are no longer in their physical presence. We cannot block this. We have no boundaries we can establish to protect ourselves. Sometimes, the more we connect, the more we allow others to enter our sphere, we want to say, “We do not want to be your damned conduit! Your life is your own. Ours is ours. DON’T COME TO US! DON’T ENTER US!” But we cannot. We cannot block, set boundaries, back away, walk away. Our hearts open, let them in, and we cry and feel pain with them and for them. Yes, it is a detriment to our body physically as we get ill. Yes, we can’t help others if we do not take care of ourselves. Yes, yes, yes! WE KNOW! And without thinking, as an immediate reaction, not response, we empathize immediately. We feel, absorb, ache immediately. Without thinking, without taking time to observe or logically evaluate, we open us, our souls, wide open and share, connect.
Are we wrong? Probably on the spectrum, continuum, overall–we are. And maybe in the next life, we will not be so sensitive, so open. But today–today we will hang onto the look in our friend’s eyes when we connected and he knew us, without words, and felt free to reach to the spirit that could help him. If we helped, in any way, any way at all, it was good.
Wallace Stegner, author, wrote, “…it is a reduction of our humanity to hide from pain–our own or others.” We think he was right, but that is us.