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Monday, August 19, 2013

Trite Cliches

It's easy to face difficulty with cliches and trite aphorisms, like 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" or "G*d never gives us more than we can handle."  The problem is that only the barest hint of truth lies within these comforting cliches, but it's just enough to stop us from going deeper into real understanding, useful compassion.

Never be quick to dismiss the suffering of others, not with cliches or sympathy or anything really.  Because suffering is real.  It is not the only thing.  It is maybe not the most important thing.  But it is real.  And dismissing the sorrow, the loss, the grief, the struggle, the suffering of another isn't actually helpful.  It doesn't take it away or cheer someone up; it simply separates you from them, puts you on the outside of what they know to be true.

If you care for someone who is suffering, if you yourself are suffering, simply acknowledging that suffering, that struggle, that pain, can be the most compassionate act you might ever offer.  You don't have to weep or suffer along with your friend.  You don't have to feel the same pain as your loved one feels.  You don't have to pretend that you know what they're going through.  Just simply acknowledge that the pain, the suffering, the struggle is real.

No need to think it must last forever, that what is happening today is what will happen every day from now on.  But don't dismiss it.  Because maybe it will. And regardless, maybe you can't do anything to take away their sorrow, but even in the midst of their sorrow you can build a bridge to the person you care about with your love, your compassion, your understanding and your patience.

We can't always help in the lives of those we love. We can't always fix their world in the ways we might want to. We can't overcome obstacles for them.  But we can always be true to the love we feel with our honesty and our presence. And sometimes that's the only thing.

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