“The Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzŭ stated that true empathy requires listening with the whole being: it demands the emptiness of all the faculties. And when the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind.
The sage in harmony with Tao needs no words nor truths, for she accepts emptiness and embraces silence. Like a child in paradise, the enlightened sage in harmony with Tao sees the world untainted by thoughts and concepts, an undefined effervescent kaleidoscope of transient color and form, with herself an inseparable part, indistinguishable from the sentient beings roaming about. Her unity is one of awe and joy.’”
To dive deep into a grieving soul, is a place where only the power of Divine Love fears not to tread. My dear friend Robin Easton has just published a very insightful post about the need for empathy and compassion. I know that some of you sweetfarts do not always fallow the links that I post. So this time I have decided to make sure you cannot avoid the opportunity to read her touching post with a very deep message for all.
"The Silent but Deadly…agreement."
"Most of us have joked about SBDs (Silent but Deadly) when referring to farts, but today I refer to another another type of SBD, which I’ll share through two true stories. The first story is about a woman friend who at sixty lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. I had been traveling prior to her husband’s death and returned several weeks after. When I heard about his death I thought, “Well, at least she’s had a lot of people to help her through the grief. In my mind I pictured her friends and church group gathered around her while she cried, shared stories and slowly adjusted to her loss."
When I arrived home I went to visit my friend. She was pleased to see me, but looked like thin glass about to shatter. I was compelled to open my arms and hold her. While she cried I said, “This has to be the hardest thing you’ve endured. Come sit and tell me about your loss. I’ll listen.” She slumped into a chair and between sobs said, “He has been dead a month and you are the first person to talk to me like this. No one asks what I feel or if I miss him. They even avoid mentioning his name.” Shocked, I stammered, `But what about your friends at the church, your family…someone?` Bewildered she said, "No, no one says anything other than to remind me that I had forty good years with him. Or they say they’re sorry for my loss and then change the subject.
I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I knew many of the people she knew and they were all good people, kind people, and most of them much closer to her than I was. She is such a kind soul, so why weren’t they inviting her to share her feelings? It hit me she’d gone a month without sharing what she felt. I reached out a hand and said, “I want to know what it’s like for you to lose him. What was it about him you love most? What kind of man was he? Let’s talk woman to woman.” And we did.
With each story she shared she became more animated. She laughed, cried, and then sobbed great gulping sobs until she calmed to a deep peace. She then told me one key thing, which I never forgot. She said, “Worse than losing my husband is that everyone tiptoes around me. All of a sudden I am more isolated than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve wanted to go to church and scream at my friends, END THE SILENCE. I thought I’d die from losing my husband, but if no one can handle me talking about death, I will die.”
Story Two – The Party is Over
Another friend of mine whom I’d only met a couple of times when he lost his child (for privacy reasons I will not state how). Since I didn’t know this man well and had never met his child I didn’t attended the funeral. But over the days I was unable to get either of them out of my mind. Something begged me to call the dad. However another part of me said, “Who am I to call and see if he’s okay. He has tons of close friends. He is hardly going to need me, let alone want to talk with someone he doesn’t know.
Blessedly I called him…just because my heart told me to. This man was immediately open to me and seemed hugely relieved that I had called. When I asked how he was coping and did he have someone to talk to, he broke down and told me what it was like to lose his child. We talked and cried and I never forgot what he said when I asked about his friends and the people at his church. He said, “Once the funeral was over, that was it. The party was over and everyone went home. Business as usual. Nobody mentions it anymore. I’ve been so alone with my grief. Until you called I didn’t know if I’d make it.” Again, I was stunned. We remained lifelong friends.
What Did I Learn?
When we don’t speak of death we not only isolate the person who has suffered loss, but we isolate ourselves from Life. By asking both these people how they were holding up, by inviting then to share their memories, tears, joy, anger, and laughter, my life was made infinitely richer. In each case I touched the Divine. I was privileged to be part of the mystery of Life and Death. In the end I saw ONLY Life. By letting their experiences flow through me I touched something so profound that it became part of me and changed me forever. I was made more vast and learned to trust my intuition. I touched the great wellspring of human courage, and was brought closer to my own humanity, all of humanity. More surprisingly, I was brought closer to LIFE…not death.
To use her own words, our friend Robin is an author, speaker, environmentalist, musician, nature photographer and adventurer.
The Naked in Eden Blog - Robin Easton is a philosophical and social commentary blog with a touch of humor and a deep love of nature. Posts are drawn from my personal questions, insights and inspirations that arise in response to day-to-day life. I hope to hear from you. Robin. http://www.nakedineden.com/
One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.
Carl G Jung