“Lessons from Pain…WEAKNESS & EMPATHY.”

“Lessons from Pain…WEAKNESS & EMPATHY.”

When we feel strong emotionally and physically, we can forget what it is like to feel weak.

We also have a diminished empathy for those who are struggling, and sometimes we do not even notice those who are in pain.

My recent hospitalization and recovery created a new awareness of weakness in others, and myself, which in turn led to higher levels of empathy.

Here are a few of my observations and thoughts

It was shocking for me feel weak and vulnerable and I did not like it.  My body did not perform the way it usually did and while my mind would say, “get up”, “move” or “walk a little bit further,” some days I simply could not do them.  For a person who is a better giver than receiver, being dependent upon others for basic needs was a major problem and required learning to accept the reality of my diminished physical and emotional state.

Kay was sitting in an ICU waiting room early one morning and a woman sat near her quietly crying with her face in her hands.  Kay asked her if she was ok, and she said her husband had just died.  Kay asked if she could sit by her and put her arm around her, and she nodded ok. Kay rubbed her shoulders for a few minutes as she heard the story. As she left the room, she thanked Kay yet would probably never remember her name.

One of my sons picked us up from the hospital and I was in the front seat.  After getting on the freeway, we were suddenly going 75 mph and I grabbed onto nearby handles and said, “Slow down, we’re going way too fast”.  He did slow down a bit, but told me I would have to get used to freeway speeds if we were going to get home before dawn.  In a little while, I relaxed a bit and we laughed at the fact that I had been used to going zero miles per hour in a bed for eighteen days and a trip to x-ray on a gurney at three miles per hour had been my top speed.   It was no wonder that 75 mph felt overwhelming.

After coming home, Kay and I went to a restaurant and as we walked across the parking lot, and I was surprised that I felt very vulnerable around strange people, loud noises and moving cars.  These things never used to bother me, yet in a weakened state, I felt an element of fear.

Weakness and vulnerability can be spotted all around us.  A few of them are, slow steps, wide eyes, fearful glances in all directions, a serious expression on a person’s face, quietness in an elevator, trembling, freezing and not moving, and audible shallow breathing through the mouth.  Learn to look around, notice a person in need and lend a hand.

“Then the King will say to those on the right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink.  I was a stranger and you invited me into your home.  I was naked and you gave me clothing.  I was sick and you cared for me.  I was in prison and you visited me.’”  They asked the King, “When did we do these things for you?”  He answered, “I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters; you were doing it to Me (Matthew 25: 34-40).”

Thanks & Love,

Milan and Kay

Next week: Kay will be writing September’s newsletters.