Posts Tagged With: grief

Day 108: Kindness can make me cry, even harder

These days, lots of things have been making me cry.

I’m definitely a person who cries and laughs a lot, perhaps more than the “average person” (whoever that is). And, during 2013 (which I’ve designated as a year where I work on the process of letting go of judgment), I’ve been crying more than my own personal average (whatever that is).

There are lots of reasons why I’ve been crying more this year. Since Monday and the Boston Marathon, I’ve got more reasons.

I feel like I’m learning a lot this year. Some of these lessons are wonderful and hope-inspiring. Some of these lessons are terrible and painful.

I think I’m learning more this year — partly because I’m paying more attention. I’m paying more attention because I’m doing work I’m passionate about (group and individual therapy at a major Boston hospital), where listening and watching are really important.

I’m also doing these blog posts, once a day, and that process is causing me to pay more attention — within myself and outside, in the world.

So I’ve been paying more attention to things, some of which are more inherently painful. So it makes sense — doesn’t it? — that I’ve been crying more.

And one thing I’ve been noticing and learning lately:

Kindess can make me cry, even harder than cruelty does.

I noticed that, last week, when some of my co-workers were incredibly kind and supportive to me, as I was struggling personally.

I notice that when I read the amazing and kind comments that people leave here, on my blog. (Like the long one, left by an old high school acquaintance, at the end of this post.)

I noticed that this morning, right before I wrote this post, when I read this portion of an on-line article about people’s kindness to others in the aftermath of the Boston bombings.

In Michigan, Hamilton Elementary School students created a “finish line” by standing on either side of the hallway so their principal could finish the marathon interrupted by the cruel blasts.

“We felt bad that she couldn’t finish the 26.2 miles. So, we decided that we would help her finish,” fourth-grader Ryan Smalley told CNN affiliate WDIV.

The students cheered for Principal Pam Mathers as she dashed to the finish line, high-fiving the students along the way. Some teachers watched, tearfully.

“You know what? I may not have gotten the medal but I’ve gotten many many more rewards from you,” Mathers said Wednesday. “All of you are my medals.”

I see that in other people, too — that kindness can make them cry, even harder.

I see that in group work, when somebody receives authentic, kind, and encouraging words from other people in the group. Sometimes that person cries, pretty intensely.

How do I make meaning of that, right now?

Perhaps kindness can make us cry harder out of …. relief. Being surprised by kindness when we’re so aware of cruelty.

Perhaps kindness can make us cry harder out of …. grief. Being opened up to old losses in a new way.

Not sure I can figure it all out this morning.

But I wanted to share it, with you.

Thanks for reading.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Day 106: Beautiful, wounded Boston

All my love to all the people who have been traumatized, in any way, by the bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday.

Boston.  I’ve lived here all my life. It’s so beautiful, especially during this time of the year.

Here’s a picture I took on Saturday, when my son and I were walking around the Public Gardens.

IMG_0629

We had just walked down Boylston Street, from the Finish Line, which was already set up for the race.  We were there, with so many people, at those very spots you’ve been seeing on your screens, over and over again.

It was safe then.

It’s changed now.  We’ve changed.

One thing I’m experiencing in myself and those around me (in Boston, in the U.S., and elsewhere) are people struggling to make meaning of this, to integrate what happened yesterday into their understanding of the world. Trying to incorporate this unexpected horror into a new understanding of now.

Because what happened here yesterday was new, wasn’t it?  At least for Boston.  And for the U.S., too.

Not for other places in the world, though.

Here’s a quote that’s sticking with me, right now:

At Massachusetts General Hospital, Alisdair Conn, chief of emergency services, said: “This is something I’ve never seen in my 25 years here … this amount of carnage in the civilian population. This is what we expect from war.”

And I saw some pictures, last night, that I will never forget.

Those pictures are available to the world.  Some of you, reading this, would have seen them, too.

I’m thinking about the people who were there, yesterday, on Boylston Street, and experienced those things directly.

I’m thinking about all the people, in the world,  who have experienced such things directly.

And I’m thinking of something else I noticed, this morning, on my computer screen. This headline:

It could happen anywhere.

That’s something we may always “know”, but some of us  know, now,  in a new way.

How do people heal from something like this?  How do they feel safe enough again?

I keep thinking  how my son and I walked down that stretch of Boylston Street on Saturday and all the pre-race celebrations we saw.  All the “normalcy,” the humanity, and the joy we witnessed that day.

That place will never look the same again.  It can’t.

Something I noticed yesterday: how quickly people reached out to others they thought may have been affected by the bomb blasts. I watched as I — and others who live here — received messages from all over: “Where are you?”  “Are you okay?”

I responded. I’m here. I’m okay.  Everybody I love is okay.

Untouched, physically.  Still alive. But changed, in some way.

I’m giving another presentation today — about the Power of Groups —  to the residents of the Boston hospital where I work.  This is a presentation that has caused me some fear and anxiety over the last week or so.

That feels so ironic — so strange — to me this morning.

Now, I’m just looking forward to connecting with others who live — and who have chosen to tend to others —  in Boston.  I’m hoping I can make enough room so people can get something they need this morning.  Something that helps.  A step towards a return to feeling safe enough.  A step towards knowing they can give enough to those they tend to.

And later in the day — and tomorrow,  Thursday, and into the weeks and months ahead — I will be facilitating groups for people who live, and receive their care, in Boston.

I remember being at  film school , at Boston University, the day  the Challenger space shuttle exploded. We all got the news right before we had to go into a class. I remember similar feelings of sadness, fear, and shock — and wondering how to integrate this new terrible knowledge into the now.

I remember sitting, that day,  in a classroom,  feeling alone — in my thoughts and feelings — in the presence of others, waiting for the teacher to come in.

And then the instructor, Thomas Ott, came in and sat down. He spoke to us. I think he asked us how we were. And then he waited.

I remember the somber look on his face. I remember the quiet tone of his voice.

I don’t remember what he said. But I remember, so clearly, how he made room for us, that day, to say what we needed to say.

I was so grateful.

Thank you, Thomas, for what you gave us, on that day in January 1986, in Boston.

It helped.

The Power of Groups.

Thanks, to you,  for being here.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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