We do not have to look far to witness pain and suffering. Regardless of whether it is in another country, our own country, our community, or much closer to home it is difficult to bear witness.
Recently we woke to find our young Husky in extreme discomfort and whimpering. Our children were deeply concerned and externally reflected how I was feeling internally. Reassuring them we called the emergency vets.
The experience compounded by a number of events in NZ, and around the world at the time reminded me of just how hard it is to bear witness to another’s pain and suffering whether it is human or an animal.
How difficult is it to see people we care about hurting?!
How hard is it to hear of strangers in other countries perhaps far from our own in pain and suffering?!
We can be tempted to turn away, to look down and pretend we never saw it. The confronting nature of another’s pain an ‘all too real’ reminder of the fragility of our own lives.
Perhaps we believe that if we see it, we must also carry it.
In bearing witness we are not called to carry another’s pain, but to acknowledge and see it, to ‘see’ them, while supporting as they learn to better walk with it.
We cannot do this for them, no matter how much we might want to. Knowing this alleviates the pressure we may feel to ‘fix it’ enabling us to direct our focus towards how best to support. The ways we can make their journey a little gentler.
Bearing witness to the pain of another can feel overwhelming. Our hearts will hurt.
So why not turn away?
Each of us has likely experienced, or will experience times where we feel a little broken. It is part of our human experience. Amidst our pain we often feel isolated and alone which only serves to heighten our suffering. What many of us seek during this time is to feel ‘seen.’ For someone to see us in our hurt and not look away. To be reminded that we are not alone.
Those that can bear witness to our pain without turning away then stay to wrap around us are precious treasures. They remind us that we are far from alone. We are known, loved and seen.
They make the seemingly unbearable, a little more bearable.
They are golden.
How can we better show up for one another and be someone’s ‘golden?’