“I Understand Your Pain!”
A few years ago we heard President Clinton claim that he understood someone’s pain. The great communicator President had a way with words, and with facial empathy. There is no doubt that he cared. But and to be fair, how many times have any of us stated the, “I understand?” phrase as we have first attempted to help an individual in pain?
The fact is, as none of us see the same rainbow, none of us have felt the same pain, even if the circumstance was the same as that of another. And it does not help the other when we make such a claim. In fact. it may be an automatic turn off to the aggrieved, and two, the one in pain may at that moment not hear us anyway.
Job’s friends from centuries ago, began to help the great man in his utter despair by saying nothing. As Job sat in the ashes scraping himself, amidst his deep pain and grief, they were quiet for several days. Then they began to pour out the reasons behind his pain. In remaining quiet they were a great source of help. In speaking out, they poured gas on the fire of his torment.
No, we do not understand someone’s pain. Neither should we say that. And perhaps the best form of empathy is the face of compassion, the service of love, and the quiet that allows for reflection. “I have been there,” “I understand,” is well-meaning, but it is an unhelpful and inconvenient/inappropriate comment. I am sorry, I am here, a hug, a quiet presence, a servant attitude, is a great beginning. That will not be forgotten.
“I don’t understand, but I am here!”
www.bryanhagerman.ca 902 471 7919. “The Therapist At Large.” I do Skype. And I care!