We can alleviate physical pain, but mental pain - grief, despair, depression, dementia - is less accessible to treatment. It's connected to who we are - our personality, our character, our soul, if you like.
I stopped by to visit my old friend at the hospital where she is living. Wednesday they are removing her ventilator. And as I walked up the steps at my house, my heart heavy from this loss--today and forever--I realized my neighbors have no idea what I am going through. My face is pleasant. My walk is normal. No one looking at me would begin to understand the depth of my grief and heart-ache. Nor do I know or understand what my neighbors are experiencing.
Grief can't be shared. Everyone carries it alone. His own burden in his own way.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
We can hold onto and care about those around us, but none of us can understand the others true experience. We can have empathy. We can have sympathy. We can be there for the other. We can share the tears and the talks. But in many ways, we travel this part of our journey alone.
My friend and I have a long history. We were across-the-street neighbors for the first 20 years of our children's lives, who are in their 40s now. We worked at the corner store together. We camped together, had street picnics together, shared pets as my pup's mom was an off-spring of her pup, and worked together to clean up the neighborhood. I will miss her.
Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life's search for love and wisdom.