I was reminded today of how important it is to listen, to truly listen. We meet so many people each day, some we know and some are just strangers who we happened to be standing behind in line. There are so many faces, so many personalities, so many facets that cannot be fathomed.
Every person has a story, every person is dealing with issues, whether is it big or small it doesn't really matter. What matters is there is so much hidden behind a tentative smile, a quick nod, or maybe even no reaction at all.
I was once told I had no clue what life was about, how could I, I always have a smile on my face. I was truly blessed to have a good life, unlike themselves, I didn't know pain, or suffering. Yes, this was said to me after I had lost my daughter, this person had just recently met me and had no clue what I had gone through. But it serves as a reminder of how so many of us are. We go through life, we survive, we smile, we put up a front. A good percentage of most of the people we encounter have no clue that we have ever had anything happen in our lives. It reminds me of a duck on a pond, they look totally calm and collected on the surface, yet they are paddling like hell underneath.
So many people are dealing with so much, you and I may be trying to cope with the death of a loved one, someone else may have just been told that their life will be cut short due to illness, another may be dealing with a terminal illness of someone dear. There are still others who are watching family members destroy their own lives through addiction and do not even know where to begin, let alone help this person. Some of you may have strained relationships with your parents, a brother or sister, or any number of people in your lives.
We work with these people, we meet them at the check out line, they attend church services with us, their children are in the same school as yours, they are members of our own families, they are anyone we meet at any given time. Yet to the naked eye they look perfectly happy, unscathed by life's tragedies, they would never understand what I am going through.
As I listened to my friend's pain today, I realized that so many of us 'suffer in silence' and go about our daily routines as if nothing is wrong. We smile, we laugh, we look like the average happy person, without a care in the world. But it is what they said that made me realize that so much happens beneath the surface, when they began to share their story, they realized how many people had traveled the very road they were on. They we amazed to find out how many people they had known for a long time, who had already been in their shoes. Had struggled with what to do, how to cope, what to do next, etc.
In an earlier posting, I shared the importance of finding someone who will just listen, who will let you tell your story. I was reminded today, how important it is too also open ourselves to others, to share our story, talk about our pain, and to really allow ourselves to be vulnerable. When I began to tell people that my daughter had died, I was amazed at the number of people I encountered that had been in my shoes. In some instances I had know these people, I had been with them at events, and watching them, I would never had guessed that they had been down the road I was now on. When I began to talk about the death of my daughter, I allowed others to share their stories with me. I learned so much from these people, they shared the ups and downs of their grief, and how with time they learned to accept, but never forget their child.
I was also reminded that grief is not only caused by the death of someone we love, but also because of illness, addiction, divorce, or any circumstance in our life that takes us out of what is normal and routine. We begin to lose what we know as normal, we begin to lose control of our lives, we are set adrift in a sea of confusion, trying to find a safe place, out of the storms, away from all the uncertainty and pain.
When we share, we find out that so many have traveled this road before us, they can guide us, let us know what to expect behind the bend in the road, give us the tools to prepare us for that sudden drop, and give us the strength and energy to keep going when the road gets steep.
It doesn't mean you talk to every person you know, or every stranger you meet, what I am trying to say, is to allow yourself to be open, and you will know when it is the right time to talk. You will know when it is okay to share your story. It doesn't mean that everyone will listen to you, you will still encounter people who will react in ways that are least expected. It simply means you must let yourself trust others enough to share, and be willing to let them share their experiences with you.
So listen, listen with your heart, and you will hear and see what your ears and eyes can not ever comprehend. You will begin to see with a heart of love, and understand that we have all been reluctant travelers of many of life's roads. In the sharing, we allow ourselves to find companions who not only walk with us, but offer to bear some of our load.
Blessings! and until we meet again.