Experience is such a unique thing, as we stand before God, even in the living of our own lives. This is an observation of the uniqueness of experience we all have within the broad similarities of life experiences.
What I mean is this: we all experience loss at one time or another, and several times, possibly, over the lifespan. The grief we experience is uniquely painful, whilst at the same time it is relative to another’s pain. The problem is that we privately want our experiences of loss and grief to mean something special, because they cost us so much.
When we see that such pain is common we can begin to feel cheated.
If we put our loss and grief into the same bucket as someone else who has been through something similar, we can fall into the trap of making our loss and grief attributable to their experience. We do ourselves a great disservice.
If my wife had just had a foetal miscarriage, and she felt that loss acutely, as did I, and someone else said they have been through the same thing a couple of times, it can communicate the right thing or the wrong thing.
It can only communicate the right thing when the person sharing respects, as unique, the experience of my wife and I. But it communicates the wrong thing when a person says, quite flippantly, “It’s okay, you will get over it!”
It may seem that the losses we have experienced are easy enough to cope with when we have made it all the way through. But for another person who has yet to experience such pain, their experience of loss and grief is absolutely unique. The person, in the midst of their experience, needs to be dignified.
If we are to be an empathic force of warmth and compassion we will dignify a person’s loss and grief as absolutely unique. We will honour them.
If we are to be the genuine wounded healer we will notice certain attributes of loss and grief that are excruciatingly palpable. We will honour them.
If we are to minister into another person’s hurt we will acknowledge that we cannot possibly feel as they are feeling. But that won’t stop us from attempting to try. A good listener needs to do both things: to separate out their own experience as irrelevant, whilst also using their own experience when it is necessary, but only when the situation dictates it, and not to satisfy their own ego.
Though we all experience loss and grief, each person needs to be dignified to the point that loss and grief are unique as they are experienced at a personal level.
Your experience of loss and grief is unique to you and God validates your pain as real and important.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.