I work with beautiful souls that are suffering for many different reasons. I choose to walk alongside others to assist with the relief of pain and suffering because I believe in healing. Sometimes, I witness those I care about get stuck in pain, fall back into old patterns, freeze, run, or give up. I fall victim to my own unproductive cycles at times when suffering is great. It’s part of being human.
I had a friend years ago that I was lucky to cross paths with and he taught me an invaluable lesson about this topic. He was not stranger to pain and suffering. His vulnerability and yearning for healing was stunning. He said a simple statement that forever changed me. He said, “Ashley, all of my pain has been necessary.” I quietly thought to myself, “there is no way that this person, with his story, can truly believe that. The pain was great, the suffering he endured was unimaginable.” He continued, “I wouldn’t be here today if I had not gone through all of that pain”
My perspective on pain greatly shifted that day. I reflected on the depths of my own suffering and realized, he was right.
Suffering brings opportunity. That seems like such a positive, cliché, counselor thing to say. And, it’s true. The growth that I have experienced in my own life is directly related to the most painful moments in my life. There is no way I would have the joy or peace that I have reached in my soul without the pain and suffering.
As humans, we try out best to sidestep suffering that is impossible to avoid. That may take the form of denial, avoidance, complacency, dependency, or suppression. Someone once said to me, “the only way to get through grief is to go through grief.” I could hear it, but I didn’t truly understand it.
This phrase took on new life as my own personal losses began to mount. I decided to choose courage and walk into the grief versus using all of the avoidance tools that I had in the past.In my own pain, I found the beauty of others who sacrificed time and heart to be with me and support me.
I also encourage the folks I work with to consider this truth.
Grief, loss, unwelcome hurt, and pain can be harsh realities of life. I don’t know anyone that has not experienced one of these. It’s a disservice to each other when we don’t lean into conversations more often about suffering and pain. These are not conversations that should only exist behind closed doors when the pain finally decides to seep out.
The pain of grief and loss has taught me how precious life is. How quickly things can change. I have learned that even though I may become frozen in fear, I can move through the fear and accept the fact that loss and pain is in many ways inevitable. That acceptance for me means relying on my tribe and support system when pain and suffering returns. These two opportunities lead to certain outcomes and quality of life.
And there is no need to pretend that life doesn’t just completely suck at times. I’m not talking about pretending we need or deserve or like the pain. I’m simply saying that if we are going to have it, we can find some more complete and helpful paths through it. We can find purpose in the pain.
Who do you talk to when pain and suffering surface?
We are designed to walk into this process with others.
Whether your suffering is founded in events from the past, present, or fear of the future — we are here to support you. We can be all the way in it with you, and lean into the opportunities that this experience can bring in life.