Pain is a clue to pay attention. When we have a physical pain, it is important to listen to what it is telling us. It may be that our heart is under stress or it may just be that we pulled a muscle shoveling snow.
Emotional and spiritual pain are also important. When you hurt, pay attention. It may be a clue to some serious disorientation or just a slight blip on the emotional journey.
In her book, "Mourning and Mitzvah", Anne Brener reports on her chaotic journey through loss as she grieved the death of her mother and sister. In that journey and in her working with others, she has learned that "the only feelings that do not change are those that are ignored. Only by facing our feelings do we learn and grow. Pain has a size and shape, a beginning and an end. It takes over only when it is not allowed voice."
While the painful feelings of loss are confusing and complex, to ignore them is to miss an opportunity to grow and learn. Loss creates a fizzier in our facade. Just as the earth cracked open by an earthquake reveals layers of history, more of our souls are revealed when our hearts are in upheaval. Paying attention to the clues that pain uncovers helps us explore the mystery of our vast and expansive souls.
Pain has it's own size, its beginning and it's end. We are able to reduce it's size and journey toward it's end when we allow that pain to have voice. We get stuck in the pain when we are silenced.
One of the greatest gifts we can give those who have experienced deep loss is a presence that creates space in which they can struggle to speak their confusing and conflicting emotions. It is sometimes a difficult task when we have come to expect that person to "have it together." Or when we need them to be strong. But, when they have a chance to give their pain voice, they have a greater opportunity to shrink the size of the pain and experience some healing. By your quiet presence, you can offer the gift of sacred space into which the pain of another might find voice.