Saturday, May 16th
There are a lot of tears being shed at the moment.Especially by those who have lost loved ones to the virus, or its knock-on effects of not being able to be alongside sick and dying relatives in hospitals or care homes. The desperate funeral restrictions do not help either.
Those carers who are tending the sick must be so frustrated that they cannot offer a treatment as such, but only help with breathing and general nursing. They are holding a hand or a mobile phone to communicate with nearest and dearest. It is difficult to think of a more agonising situation for so many.
On Thursday morning I listened to a Bhuddist speaker, Vishvapani, talking about the concept of 'trembling with the suffering of others.' It reminded me of an extract from an anthology of DonaldHilton's - Keeping Company with the Fallen:
A child who was late in returning from an errand explained to her worried parents that she had come across a friend who had dropped her beloved china doll and it had smashed to pieces on the sidewalk.'Oh,' her father said, 'you stopped to help her pick up the pieces.' 'No,' the child answered, 'I stopped to help her cry.' (Quoted in High-Flying Geese, by Browne Barr)
There will be a great deal of healing needed once we are out of this crisis. So many people have found themselves in traumatic circumstances, whether on the hospital ward, in the care home room or separated from those who needed them in their hours of struggle and death. Mental Health was beginning to have its profile raised before all this. It will need to be near the top of the health agenda in any new normal.
Therapists, counsellors and psychiatrists will be in high demand. But we can also do our bit as friends and family. We may not have the expertise to guide others through their dramas, but we can listen and, when possible, hold a hand or put an arm around those who cry. I understand that Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, is regularly popping over the road from his apartment in Lambeth Palace to sit with the sick and dying in the nearest hospital. He may not have any medical or counselling skills for all I know, but he is alongside patients in their hour of need, helping them weep and offering what comfort he can though his very presence and appropriate words and prayers.
We can do the same and may well need to be part of a new army of listening ears and outstretched arms. And we should not underestimate the ability of children to help us cry and give us a hug. With, or without words, we all have the capacity to tremble with those who suffer. Being there is what counts.
Kyle of Durness