JC’s Confessions #11

In the first few seasons of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert did a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

I find it easier to deal with suffering that isn’t right in front of me.

There is still concern and worry, but it is much less likely to reach a paralyzing level.

With the pandemic, I know there are many people suffering in many places around the world. There is a certain level of continuing worry and heartache.

Still, it is not as painful for me as being with someone who is suffering.

Some of the most difficult things I have had to deal with in my adult life have been medical issues with my family. Some of these have been difficult to diagnosis conditions with my children which have resulted in being home with them continually and not having effective treatment available. It was so stressful to see someone need to hold onto things to be able to navigate, to know that there was only enough strength to make one trip a day up and down the stairs to the bedroom, to not be able to relieve constant pain.

And it is always there in front of you and, despite different doctors and their opinions and hours on the phone with the insurance company and trying everything the doctors recommend, you are helpless.

Somehow, though, when suffering is at a distance, I can imagine that, perhaps, things are not as dire, that things are bearable or treatable or maybe even okay. Sometimes, I can even banish worry for a little while.

I don’t know if other people find it more painful to witness suffering of a loved one firsthand or to be seperated from them. It’s not something that people tend to discuss.

I only know that it is much more painful for me to watch a loved one suffer, especially when everything I can do seems so small in the face of the problem.

One-Liner Wednesday: Suffering

“If you don’t transform your suffering, you will transmit it.”
– Richard Rohr, OSF

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/04/01/one-liner-wednesday-the-way-a-writers-mind-works/

Witnessing suffering

Today, I have experienced a number of reminders of suffering – some large-scale, such as the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, some personal, such as hearing of the death of the sister of a friend, who had been caring for her as she died of breast cancer.

As difficult as it is to suffer oneself, it is also difficult to witness suffering – especially if the sufferer is someone you love, someone you want to protect. You want so much to make their suffering stop, even though it is impossible to do.

I am reminded of the times in my life when I have been confronted with the suffering of a loved one, which have, unfortunately, taken up more years than I care to dwell on here. I wish I had some great wisdom to pass on, but I’m afraid all I can say is that it is important to be available to the one who is suffering and to listen to them, whether that means hearing them speak, intuiting the meaning behind their words, or reading their body language. I think it also helps to concentrate on the other person, even though that may mean setting aside one’s own worries, sadness, and fears. The one who is suffering has enough to deal with without adding to their pain by their worrying about you.

You can take time on your own later to process the worries, sadness, and fears. Sometimes that happens later in the day or week, when you find some time and space of your own to reflect. Sometimes, it is years later when something reminds you of that period of time when your loved one was suffering.

A day like today.