There will be a time for everyone when you will go through some type of trauma… some life event where your whole world is torn upside down. We are human .. it is inevitable. For me.. it is happening now… it has been a combination of joy and sorrow.. beauty and pain. The rollercoaster … Having Peter home and experiencing the gift of him with us has been such a blessing, yet at the same time reminds me how much I miss my Maurice. Leaving him in the NICU, alone without his brother, without me .. it is heartbreaking. My baby boy is in a new hospital. I don’t know the doctors or nurses very well. His blood pressure is high.. we are working him up for pulmonary hypertension. Tomorrow we check his kidneys and the pressures inside his heart. The doctors are trying to figure out why he is breathing so fast.. it is interfering with his eating because he can aspirate. Most of his food is still through a feeding tube. Im so happy they are checking everything but I am still so afraid. I’m trying my absolute best to be there for him and my other three babies at home. I cannot be all I have to be for anyone right now… including myself… it is impossible to be the perfect mother, wife, friend, daughter or anything at this moment.
The pieces of me are held together by those who continue to hold space for me. It’s a concept we use often when practicing yoga. It is something I did when working in psychiatry and I do with those I love. It is just being present. It is not “bothering” someone you love when you tell them you are there.. just there to offer space.. offer your love or attention. It is those who walk along side me.. those who continue to offer unconditional love and support without trying to fix or change the outcome of my problems. People who have gone through situations far worse and yet still take the time to comfort me.. they are my angels.. It is those who make me feel safe and comfortable in my decisions.. and allow me to trust my intuition. It is the people who have been there for months .. who lend me courage and strength by creating a safe environment and allowing me to feel whatever it is that comes up at that moment in time.
For months, my father has come to hospital with me. It started with my ultrasound appointments. I could not drive.. my mom would watch the girls .. and my husband would have to go to work. My dad will sit with me.. he listens when I cry.. he offers reassurance but truly allows me to feel whatever I have to .. if it is happy or sad.. he is just there for me… and when it gets to be too much .. he will wait outside for a few minutes. He will not let me see how hard it is for him…it is overwhelming .. he has seem me hurt so much .. and although I know it destroys him.. how difficult it must be to see his grandchildren or his daughter suffer.. he would never show it or make it about him. He has been a constant strength for me.. an example on how a parent should be for their child. It makes me better for my babies.. he would even visit the boys for me on days I couldn’t be there. I truly adore him and admire so much the man that he is.
There is never a “right thing” to say when someone you love or care about is suffering.. so many times you get caught up in these words … words that have no real meaning.. People will always tell me I don’t know what to say.. and that is ok! …true comfort comes from simply holding space. The practice of letting someone know you are present requires humility and you must be genuine. It means letting go of all your ego and understanding it’s not about you. Offering your attention.. not interrupting or working on your comment and response.. not asking a hundred questions… it is just listening… it is a very hard skill to master. It takes practice. The ego tries to sneak back in and find opportunities to subtly make things about you and not the other person. You have to be willing to allow the other person to feel why they want to feel. It is not your job to be a cheerleader or to somehow make all the pain go away. If you are holding space you need to practice acceptance…. not try to immediately change things. Your opinions are irrelevant when you are being present. Unless you have gone through the exact same situation .. you can never truly understand the feelings. Just being present is enough. Be compassionate. When someone listens .. without judgement or ego.. with full presence .. it is an act of compassion in itself. You don’t have to even say the words .. ” what can I do ..”. You are already doing it. An attentive loving presence in itself can relieve so much pain.
We are human.. we will all suffer at one time or another. It is so difficult to witness the ones you love hurt. You want to fix it.. you relate it to something you can understand.. you try anything to make the other person feel better using all your learned phrases “it will be ok”. ” “be positive”…. it’s not about empathy or trying to understand the situation .. you don’t have to put yourself in their shoes.. it’s just about presence and awareness. Pain is lonely. It is isolating. When someone holds space for you.. even though no real problem may be solved .. you still feel better.. you feel less alone.. you feel loved.. it is a spiritual connection for both people.. it is very safe.. very beautiful and it is an act of pure love.
It is a skill like any other. Most people get so caught up in “not knowing what to say” so they say nothing. .. so wrapped up in ego… Healers practice this daily.. others only understand it when they are suffering and need it. I have seen the best and worst in people .. from doctors to friends and strangers..
It’s not easy to know how to behave around someone who is going through a loss or true emotional distress. I know that I am the person who wants to fix everything for everyone. I have such a hard time seeing people I love hurt. But when someone you love is grieving .. I can assure you the best thing to do is not to try to fix it.. the best thing you could do is be present…even if just for a moment.. allowing someone to feel and to offer a safe nonjudgemental space free of your ego.. it offers pure love and healing. To the many angels I have had do this for me .. to those who have given me this gift.. it is something you can feel…. please know you are my glue.. the glue that holds me together each day as I try so hard to make it through in one piece… the natural healers that give me so much strength. I love you.