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Suffering is universal.
Suffering almost always causes an automatic reaction of withdrawing into ourselves. We know that being alone for a time can give us a personal level of healing, a moment in time to regroup. We need that time of deep grieving as it is part of the journey and acknowledges the loss and typically a shock or abrupt separation. That level of loss brings almost everyone to a place of aloneness for some time.
Even in the midst of our own almost unbearable loss, we don’t have to look far to see example after example of those who found healing following equally, unimaginable loss. Whether disaster, war, famine, Holocaust, crime, or accident, people heal in their ways even after devastating events.
And after that time of aloneness, where does the journey of healing head too next?
“We invite you to consider that community, friends, family, professionals, and even strangers can be part of our healing journey.”
Being with people gives us an opportunity to be supported, a chance to be encouraged, and an opportunity to discover ways of healing that we would otherwise never learn.
We need each other. Being together is a necessary step towards our recovery. At first thought, this “being with others” may sound overwhelming. The idea of sharing space with other people seems like too much. It can sound like too much, especially when we don’t want to answer questions or even talk.
However, we are made for community. Families, friendships, lifestyles, cultures – these are all based on relationships. We need relationships. We need each other. And there is a time when being with others brings more opportunity for healing, comfort, and peace to our sadness and suffering.
Being with people is an opportunity to gather.
The word gather is defined as a drawing together in one location.
Gathering together offers another beautiful form of healing.
So who shall we first gather with?
Friends and family are typically our first choice. Those the closest to us. If we have felt separated from even those we live with, we can even begin there, right in our own home.
However, we may be disappointed in the people around us in general.
During our darkest hour, they may drift away. They may have never shown up. Frequently, in the early days of a loss, help, and support arrive like a firecracker, burning hot and bright. However, that kind of help is difficult for most people to sustain due to their obligations and limitations.
And when people realize they can’t keep to that intense level of support, they may quit altogether because they feel helpless to fill the needs. So they fade away.
So what do you do if the people around you, friends and even family, stop showing up or never did? How do you practice healing by gathering when there are so few to chose from?
The next step is yours to make. And you can do it. First, it would help if you stepped out of your familiar surroundings and trust that you have the wisdom and ability to find healthy and healing opportunities.
This word gathering can be a good word to focus on when you’re thinking of healing in the presence of others.
Another way to think of it is how can you be the gathering of someone else who needs support? When you are a part of helping others, you will be in the company of those who are like-minded. You will be in the presence of people who are more supportive, generous, and kind. And you will feel at least some of what you need.
Look to gatherings in your community. These can be found in places of worship. If you have a faith-based lifestyle, being in the presence of those who share your faith will bring you moments of healing.
If you have been out of church or a faith-based gathering and aren’t ready to engage, you can always arrive a few minutes after the service has begun and leave a few minutes before the end. This is an excellent way to “be” with others without having to engage fully. That way, you get the benefit of gathering, but you don’t get overwhelmed. Baby steps. Totally acceptable.
You can also look at community classes, community celebrations, and opportunities to serve in your community.
Sometimes showing up and being anonymous is a unique way of healing.
Suppose you go to something completely new, where you don’t know anyone. You have the opportunity to be someone other than the person with the grief. You get to be part of something completely different, and it can be a very healing opportunity. So if you were to go and work in a community Food Bank, or do you want to join a garden club, or Volunteer and a nonprofit, you, of course, bring yourself, but those moments where you’re just about what you’re doing and can bring you some relief and give your brain and your emotions a break. And that will serve you well.
“Gathering with others in a healthy environment, even if you feel you are limited to engage, can still be a salve to your soul.”
And for those of us who have gone through suffering for long periods of time, we know that the moments when suffering lifts gifts us with clarity and opportunity to make good choices for ourselves.
There’s no way to make suffering or loss disappear. But there are ways to embrace healthy living that lessens the grip that grief and loss can have on us at some earlier moments of the journey. People, relationships, moments of connection, new experiences, new and gentle experiences, new possibilities and opportunities, coaching, encouraging, and serving can support you as you purpose to help yourself.
Please share with us one small move or action you have made to bring more people, a greater gathering, into your life. How did it help you?