“Knowing that there is worse pain doesn’t make the present pain hurt less.” (Real Live Preacher), as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
We all experience pain from time to time, whether it is real, physical pain or emotional pain. Sometimes people will say things like “shake it off” or maybe “it could be worse.” Those sage pieces of advice seldom help in the moment. In fact, recent studies have shown the harmful effects of decades of sports coaches telling a player with a concussion to shake it off and get back in the game. There are tons of stories from ex-athletes about how they wish now that they had taken better care of their bodies, instead of “playing through the pain.”
On the emotional level, people who have just experienced the loss of a loved one or child cannot be consoled by advice from others. Theirs is a deep person pain that only they can feel and understand. What is really needed in those moments is a hug and a shoulder to cry upon. The release of letting it out through a good cry is much better than trying to maintain “a stiff upper lip.” The emotional pain that we experience in such times is our minds trying to get itself around the overwhelming senses of fear and confusion and loss and concern for the future all at once. It is too much to process and organize and compartmentalize, so we break down in tears and that somehow helps. The tears provide a way for it to all wash over us at once and get out. After a good cry, you head can clear and rational thought return.
Once the initial pain subsidies we often settle into a period of dull, persistent pain, whether the injury be physical or mental. That can come in the form of a throbbing, back of the head pain or as sharp little jibs of pain as we are reminded of the loss or the initial injury. We begin to learn how to deal with the persistent pain and perhaps start the rehabilitation process to try to get back to a new “normal.”
Some injuries in sport are career ending and many losses in life are life-changing. Things can never get back to the way they were, so you need to focus upon living with things the way they are. That is hard on ex-athletes and on people who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Many ex-athletes suffer though bouts of depression because they can no longer perform at the level that they were used to; but, more importantly, they are no longer a member of the team that defined them as people and served as a “family” of sorts.
People who lose their life partners suffer the greatest sense of loss of all. It is hard to lose a child, especially for a mother; but to lose your life partner is much worse. A successful long-term relationship with a life partner results in the melding of the two souls to such as extent that the loss of one will leave the other feeling only half there. The pain of having half of who you had become in life torn away is beyond that of all other human pain. Yet, we survive. We may cry longer and with deeper emotions that at any other time in our lives; but we live on.
When you are a child and got hurt, your mom might kiss your boo-boo and make it all better. You probably never told her that kissing the boo-boo really didn’t make the pain go away; but that being held and loved made bearing the pain a little easier. As adults we seldom still have mom around to kiss our boo-boos; but, if you are lucky you have friends or relatives who are there to give you that hug of assurance and tell you that things will be alright. In that moment, let yourself go; become that child again that finds comfort and relief from the pain in someone’s arms. Have a good cry; then, thank them for being there. They may not even understand what they just did for you; but, they’ll be glad that they were there to help.
An what if they aren’t there when you need them? Remember that you are never alone. You have only to acknowledge that God is there to comfort you to begin feeling the warmth of His embrace. There’s no boo-boo too big for God to handle, if you go to Him for a hug.