Human suffering is all around us and people seem to be suffering more every day. In my childhood memories I seemingly cannot recall specifics about suffering, was it because as child I could not recognize suffering, was I simply sheltered from the suffering around me—or did we live in a happier time. Suffering goes back to biblical times so we know suffering has always been part of life. Without sorrow could there be happiness—would we know the joy of laughter?
Suffering is all around us every day and it knows no boundaries of age, wealth or health. For the teenager who suffers from acne or the disappointment of being dumped before the prom, their pain is real and just as devastating. The person who loses a job and suddenly faces unemployment in a down economy, or a spouse files for divorce—what if all this happens on the same day. None of the above illustrates or begins to describe the suffering associated with the loss of a child or loved one, a devastating illness, addiction, hunger, or disaster. We all suffer—some in silence, some unheard, and some without compassion nonetheless, we all will experience the pain of suffering.
Our society over time has improved and refined the art of inflicting suffering on one another as if there is a reward for it. We disregard or minimize the pain felt by the teenager who was dumped before the prom by saying “it is just a date,” or the loss of pet by saying “it is just a dog.” Our lives are full of “could have—would haves”, and “only ifs,” as we get caught up in providing for our families from day to day, week to week, month to month, as our own suffering fades into the obscurity of everyday lives. The mundane causes the suffering of others to fade into acceptance or worse we blame those who suffer.
We all have stories of a doctor or nurse who have great bedside manners, and how these talented individuals impact the care and perception of a person’s ailment. When your healthcare provider is embodied with kindness, grace, love, and forgiveness, you find gentleness with a deeper healing as you realize they stand with you and help carry the burden. You still have the same illness, the same disease, the same cares—but the difference is the grace of caring improves the science of medicine.
You don’t have to be a doctor or nurse—have the right words or phrases; the giving of one’s time enhances healing by standing with those who suffer. I am convinced as we share the struggles of others the weight of our own cares are lightened. Together by encouraging, love, acceptance, and forgiveness, we reassure and support those who suffer while we inflict love and healing on those we touch.
Howard Baker, RN BSN
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