When a Loved One Is Suffering
Dear Nicholas, I’m losing a very dear friend to a terrible disease. Her story is not mine to tell and so I guard her privacy, but need to say: this is hard. Right now it’s not loss that’s worst; it’s knowing that a loved one is suffering.
There is nothing at all that I can do to make it better.
I came downstairs just now–it’s 3:13 a.m.– thinking if I write this I can stop the thoughts going round and round. They don’t help anybody, these thoughts…
Efforts at prayer–which are all that’s available that might help –they slide back into thoughts of her suffering.
My not sleeping isn’t doing anybody any good.
I know what you have to say about loss: the spirit lives on and be grateful for having the person in your life. But right now her spirit is afflicted and it’s hard to shift into gratitude.
I want to see the point of such suffering as my friend’s. Is there anything to be learned–for her or me? Is my unhappiness about her pain supposed to show me how much I care about her? I already knew that. Neither of us needs what’s happening now.
Wildly extreme images of witnessing pain keep coming to mind: Mary at the foot of the cross, terrible Holocaust stories, a father whose two children were being tortured by a dictator’s regime setting himself on fire on the steps of the prison. I read about that father years ago and haven’t been able to forget him.
These are horrible thoughts. I feel apologetic for even revealing them.
I’m not stumbling onto any insights about this, which is always my hope in these notes.
I’m going to give sleep another try.
More later–or maybe I’ll regret sending this at all. Don’t know.