A lot of people don’t like visiting hospitals, nursing homes, funeral homes, or other people’s pain. Why is that? I think the answer is fairly obvious and important when discussing depression.
We don’t want to be faced with what we worry will be ourfuture 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. The post I’m linking to here is one such post. It’s hard to read about another’s pain. I find it hard myself. Heck, I don’t even like to read my own journal entries from that period of my life. And the post I referenced here is milder than most. There are times, though, 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. It’s even counterproductive to one’s own emotional state.
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 still is, dying, that is.
She spent the rest of her life nursing her grief. I drive by her house (we’ve since moved to another city) every few years when we take an alternate route to our cabin and even her house reflects her sadness. Her house looks “wounded”. Junk piled in the windows in front of the closed drapes. Clutter in the yard. In desperate need of paint. Weeds everywhere. Like it’s dying. 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’ve learned in overcoming my depression is that I don’t have to continue an unhealthy relationship.)
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. Our fear that if we read something really painful, listen to something really painful, meet someone in pain, we will somehow “catch” it. We don’t “catch” death, 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 eight week 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, in its ugly but redemptive face, don’t do it. Fear never seems as ominous once we stare it down.
Welcome. I blog about faith and spirituality, and how to manage our moods, especially depression and anxiety. As Christians, we are as subject to the same struggles in life as anyone else. But we have the promises of God to equip us to face these struggles