Relief of suffering is an essential element of life in my book (literally and figuratively). It was a tough chapter to write, and a tough chapter to keep short because there is so much suffering in this world. Suffering creates deep emotional blindness for many of us and sometimes, even rage against it.
As children, we watch our parents suffer and often we can do nothing to change what they are going through. They teach us at that formative age about dealing with it by their actions and words. And for me as an adult, the toughest thing to re-learn about suffering, was that suffering is NOT necessary… nor honorable. I was reminded of this recently watching the movie “Thor.”
The plot involves Thor being sent to Earth by his father Odin with the hope that the suffering Thor will encounter will redeem him. Yes, our culture continues to harp on and worship the idea of the redemptive power of suffering. For instance, we use the suffering and death of our soldiers to remind us that freedom costs us dearly. And those of us that were raised Christian are taught countless times that it took the sacrificial death of Jesus to redeem our lives from sin. Judaism also teaches about blood sacrifice especially in the incident wherein God blesses Abraham for his willingness to kill his son Isaac in order to meet God’s demand for a blood sacrifice.
“But we no longer ritualistically slaughter animals or humans to appease our Deity,” you say. But Christians of all varieties are committed to recalling the blood sacrifice of Christ in “Communion” (call it “Mass,” “Eucharist,” or “Holy” whatever) because his blood is central to Christian doctrine. And we still make memorials of our war dead. It’s very hard not to believe that suffering and sacrifice are honorable. They are not. They never were.
What is honorable is pushing through suffering when suffering is inevitable. But clinging to suffering or making up stories about its deep significance is a form of madness. Life does not honor suffering. Life abhors suffering and will sacrifice sometimes to remove or reduce suffering. Yet sacrifice is like pain: it is not to be taken lightly or just pushed through. Sacrifice and pain are warning signs to slow down, take stock and to creatively resolve the suffering as lovers, adults, and keepers of Life.
My wife has been called a Comfort Queen. She has taught me a lot and she is perhaps my best instructor in letting go of the idea of “the honor in suffering.” She is an RN and a wise woman. She excels in the relief of suffering and even wrote the book on comfort remedies. Just reading the words of her book communicates comfort. Get a copy, please. (Link below.) Use her suggestions, especially her 25 Positives. You may discover a love for Life that was missing.
Life without suffering is Paradise. We lose our need to strike out in Paradise. We lose our resistance to other viewpoints/ cultures/ gender differences, et cetera in Paradise. And we leave behind any idea that suffering was necessary or made our journey more meaningful.
When does relief of suffering become your partner in Life? To get you started, read a free chapter of Comfort Remedies (For Life on an Uncomfortable Planet) at Amazon.com, by Gloria Clarke, RN, my fabulous partner, adviser and best friend. Then make an investment in the relief of suffering by purchasing this book. It is full of remedies you can use to relieve the suffering of others: children and pets, with food, during travel or doctor visits, with gifts, meditation and all your senses.