“Don’t Waste the Pain.”

I first read that phrase on the Internet.  “Don’t waste the pain.”  The words jumped out at me.

How often have I met people who are determined to live good lives despite the anguish of having had their only child die or their sister complete suicide or their mother die so young of a long-term traumatic disease?  Heroes are those who know tragedy but are determined not to waste the pain.

If you have to be miserable and suffering, why not use it as an opportunity to learn about life and love, kindness and compassion?  NO ONE honors anyone, nor do they prove their love, by suffering and complaining.  Carl Jung was wise when he said, “Neurosis is suffering that hasn’t found its meaning.”

So I challenge you, right now, no matter what your circumstances in life, not to waste the pain.  Use it to learn.  If you have lost someone you love, I can guarantee there are people out there who would be grateful to receive your love or even give you love.  But if your heart is closed, you won’t recognize love when it is given.  You will become stingy with your love.

Sometimes as I sit with people in the throes of grief, I am so honored because, despite their pain and anguish, they want to be able to live and make meaning from what is now seemingly meaningless to them.   To believe that extensive suffering is the way to prove love is a child’s idea of grief.  I know:  My father died suddenly when I was 12 years old.  With no one to explain or show me what grief looked like, I came to believe that suffering was the only way to prove that I loved my father and wouldn’t forget him.  After all, if I were happy or had fun, wouldn’t that show that I didn’t care enough?  No one told me differently.  I’m not sure the important “theys” in my life even knew.

But life is strange and suffering doesn’t end with one loss.  The losses keep coming.  Some are people we love who die, other losses are more about the ills of the body, and some are relationships that just end, for whatever reason.  There are many reasons we grieve.

When my stepson, Doug, died almost ten years ago, I recall struggling to make sense of his loss.  As I write this now, I still shake my head, as I did that day so many years ago, when suddenly I knew that the only thing I could do to honor Doug was to live better.

I hope I have.

©Dr. Virginia A. Simpson, July 6, 2001

Dr. Virginia Simpson specializes in all aspects of greif counseling and is a grief specialist with many years of experiece. If you are considering a Bereavement Care Specialist and you are located in the greater sacramento area, Dr. Virginia Simpson is here to help.