Most of us have experienced some form of pain in the course of our existence here on planet Earth. Some have experienced significant physical pain. Some have experienced horrific emotional pain. Some have experienced a combination of the two that would bring anyone to their breaking point.
The experts tell us that pain reminds us that we are, in fact, still alive. That may be true, but a shattered life can often feel like barely a life at all.
Pain reminds us that we are only human. We can be fragile. We do suffer at times. Some endure the pain of a terminal illness from which they know is no escape. There will be no saving grace. They will one day succumb to whatever disease sought to destroy them. Many joke that if they woke up one day without some pain, they would assume that they must be dead. Some have such pain that it will wake them from sleep or deny them the ability to even fall asleep.
Then there is another kind of pain. Perhaps by all accounts, the worst kind of pain. The pain of helplessly watching those you love suffer and maybe even die. Knowing that you would trade their place in a heartbeat if only you were able to. To take away their hurt and pain and take it on yourself. To exchange an hourglass of life with theirs would be eagerly given by many for the sake of a loved one.
Yet you are not able to. So you stand by a loved one through the hardships of their life. A part of your heart and what makes you who you are dies along with them. If you could crawl into their casket or urn, part of you would. However, you can’t. It’s not up to us to make those decisions. We have to let go with as much grace as we can. We have to discover how to exist in a world that is no longer ever the same.
Pain doesn’t care if you are a good mother or a great father. Pain doesn’t care if you are the best employee your work has ever seen. It doesn’t care if you are the kind of friend your best friend calls because they know that you will always have their back. Pain doesn’t care if you are loved and admired by your family more than you will ever know. Pain just doesn’t care.
Pain can bring the strongest of our society to their knees. It is a great equalizer in the sense that no one can truly escape it. It is how people choose to handle it that separates them from their peers. Pain is some of the fuel that pushes us forward. We despise it, and as a result, we learn to grit through it.
Grief and pain have a way of making you pay now or later, but it will make you pay up. We do just about anything to avoid it. It is a losing battle, but at least we try.
We push through the pain in the ways that we know how. It may be escaping by listening to our favorite songs. It may be escaping into our favorite books. It may even be exercise. It may be some other kind of escape, but the common factor is that we seek to avoid pain whenever possible.
Yet pain is also a great teacher. It teaches us that it hurts to fall down but also does not stop us from standing again. It shows us that emotional or physical setbacks do not truly define us. It is how we handle them that does.
We do not get to go through this life without pain and turmoil, but we do get to decide how we handle the rest of our life when we do. We have a choice. We can rise, or we can stay down. The option is ultimately ours to make.