A lot of people don’t like visiting hospitals, nursing homes, funeral homes, or other words, other people’s pain.
Why is that?
I think the answer is fairly obvious and especially important if the person we are visiting is clinically depressed.
We don’t want to be faced with what we worry will be our future,or what has been our past. We feel vulnerable and at risk. We’d rather avoid it.
The same is true of reading posts that are full of darkness and heartbreak.
Heck, I don’t even like to read my own journal entries from that period of my life. There are times when avoiding pain is perfectly acceptable, but too many people use it as an excuse to avoid doing what they know is the right thing to do.
Like visiting those in the hospital, nursing homes, those who have suffered a loss. Like listening to someone share their story. It’s actually a healthy thing to do and it’s selfish not to. Avoiding another’s pain is counterproductive to our own emotional state.
Years ago, I was in the hospital recovering from surgery. I kept expecting a certain “friend” to come for a visit. I learned after I got home and she had remained AWOL, that it was “too hard for her to come to the hospital because it brought back memories of her father’s death.”
Now, before you think I’m being unfair, let me tell you the rest of the story. Her father had died ten years earlier!
She had spent ten years of her life nursing her grief.
We’ve moved away but on occasion I need to go through the town. Sometimes I drive by her house and her house looks “wounded”. Junk is piled in the windows in front of the closed drapes. There is a lot of clutter in the yard. It is in desperate need of paint. Weeds are everywhere.
It looks the same every time I happen to take that route. Her house has become a refuge where she hides from any pain the world might offer up. (In case you’re wondering where our friendship ended up, do you even have to ask? One of the things I learned in overcoming my depression was that I don’t have to continue in an unhealthy relationship. We remained “friendly” but no longer friends.)
So what is this post about anyway? It’s just this.
Don’t be afraid to expose yourself to pain (even your own). Pain isn’t the enemy, fear and avoidance are. We fear that if we listen to something really painful, or have to be around someone in pain, we will somehow “catch” it. We don’t “catch”, cancer, depression, etc. If anything, facing it inoculates us in a way.
I mentioned in an earlier post here that I have a friend who lost her husband after a very short battle with cancer. Eight weeks from diagnosis to death. here We went to the visitation yesterday. (In the States, we visit the family of the deceased at a funeral home. The funeral is usually the next day.) I woke up a little “down” this morning and I knew it was because I projected her situation to me–to my awareness that, but for the grace of God, I could be standing in her shoes. At the same time, it made me more grateful and more in love with my husband than ever as I realized how precious is every moment. How death is no respecter of persons whether I choose to ignore it or not.
So the next time you have an opportunity to avoid fear, don’t.
Fear never seems as ominous once we stare it down.
God bless and I hope you have a good day.