Compassion, Tender hearts, and Pandemic

Disclaimer: All Scarred Joy posts reflect the author’s view of the world. This one is no different.

I dedicate this Scarred Joy post to my close friend and Covid-19 teacher, Nurse Candi.

In March 2020, the world changed forever. Terms like, “lockdown,” “self-isolation,” “Coronavirus,” “Covid-19,” “virus,” and “pandemic,” became a permanent part of the vernacular. Conspiracy theories became rampant whether the virus posed a genuine threat to anyone or was part of a global plan to take over the world. Misinformation on social media platforms added to the bombastic and overkill of information regarding the pandemic.

I have found it difficult to keep up with how the pandemic has impacted people. I am aware people have died from Covid-19. Others have become sick enough to require hospital care. Society now recognizes doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals as heroes. True dedication and compassion partnered together to save lives.

Although I don’t talk about it often I am aware the pandemic has impacted my life. I am not a hero. Since retirement I am no longer a healthcare professional. All I know is how to be me, like it or not. During this point in time, I hope to find out what I might learn from a pandemic or a world crisis. I am eager to learn what this season of unheard of world change might teach me about myself?

I do not have a scientific mind; therefore I don’t cram my mind with fears of the unknown or data about Coronavirus-19. I’m more interested and focused on how a time like this impacts the lives of people. Here are a few points of what I have been thinking about and observing.

This is a time for the tender-hearted. Although it took me a long time to recognize and admit, I am tender-hearted. I’m sure there are people who might question this, but I accept this part of my personality. This does not mean I am better than anyone else. This means, however, I’m not afraid to show emotions when confronted with sensitive matters or events in life. 

This worldwide virus brings out the worst or best in humanity. From my personal point of view, I hope it highlights the good in me amid Covid nightmares. Included in my tenderhearted way of looking at life, I notice other tenderhearted, compassionate people.

The world is all too ready to show its baser side during “normal” times in life. Now is a time for tenderheartedness to shine forth and bright. This isn’t hard. Here is a simple suggestion to show your tender heart. Do a kind act for a person you don’t know. Simple, right? Go on, you can do this!

This is a time for compassion. In Canada I can think of only one leader in the public eye who exemplifies compassion. Her name is Dr. Bonnie Henry, and she is the Chief Medical Officer for the province of British Columbia (BC). Until the Coronavirus leered its ugly face, I never heard of Dr. Bonnie. She now makes daily and accurate announcements about Covid-19 to the people of B.C. through TV and radio. 

In June 2020, Dr. Bonnie mentioned the number of people in British Columbia who died from substance abuse during the early part of the Covid crisis. She showed the emotional side of a medical professional who has a genuine compassion for people. 

A person like Dr. Bonnie is not without her critics. Perhaps this shows there is a price to pay for genuine compassion. Perhaps this level of compassion is rare today and people don’t know how to respond to it. My critics are not too far away either, therefore it doesn’t surprise me people criticize Dr. Bonnie Henry. My purpose here is not to judge Dr. Bonnie’s critics. I think this point of not judging is more in keeping with compassion.

This is a time for transparency and vulnerability. The beginning of this blog post includes a dedication to a special person in my life. For the sake of this message, I call her Nurse Candi. Nurse Candi is a friend to my wife and I. She is also a Registered Nurse. On top of all this greatness, she is my Covid-19 teacher. She keeps me informed on matters related to Covid I would otherwise miss.

My wife and I have known Nurse Candi for many years. We lost contact with each other for a time, but we are now in regular communication with each other.

One thing I love about Nurse Candi is her transparency and vulnerability. This is a measure of her strength. She has experienced her share of sadness and hardship. Nurse Candi exemplifies a Scarred Joy life. This is a life devoted to living a full life despite grief and hardship. Nurse Candi has never lost her sweet demeanour and heart for people. I’m a blessed man to have her in my life. With people like Nurse Candi in life there will always be hope.

Vulnerable people know others can easily hurt them. They will put themselves out for other people, despite the possibility of harm. They may not always understand this about themselves, for they are living as they were born to be. Vulnerable people are also often transparent. 

To be transparent and vulnerable is not a sign of weakness. In my life, Nurse Candi exemplifies this welcome human characteristic. I never have to guess at what she thinks about a particular matter about Covid or life. Do we agree on all matters in life? I doubt it, but that doesn’t matter either. She is not one who will pout and stamp her feet, then walk away if we disagree on something. This trait is rare and remarkable in this present time in history. This is also another reason I love Nurse Candi. 

In the grander scheme of things, my voice is minimal and of no significance. This does not stop me from believing our culture needs compassionate people unafraid to admit they are but mortal. The time in which we live is also a time for transparent and vulnerable people. The world has enough phoniness, power mongers, and weak leaders at the best of times. Now is a time for us all as a collective unit to show we care for each other. Let us allow those who are compassionate, vulnerable and transparent show us how.

Like genuine compassion, transparency and vulnerability are qualities the world needs at all times. I may never meet Dr. Bonnie Henry, but I have Nurse Candi in my life and that’s fine with me. Do you have a Nurse Candi in your life? If you do thank God for her. Bask in the warmth of her compassion and give thanks for the gift she is to your life. I know I do.

The Purpose of My Blog

I am not new to blogging but I still have a lot to learn about it. Please allow me to give you an idea of who I am and why I blog. I have forty years of experience of supporting people in their grief. This includes professionally and volunteering as well as in my education.

As a boy people fascinated me. For the most part my fascination continues today. Through the years the ways people process their grief is of particular interest. I maintain every person I come alongside who is grieving is my teacher. The same applies to those I have sat with as they near the end of life. Each person is unique and so is how one grieves.

I call my blog, Scarred Joy. Here is an idea of what Scarred Joy means. Scarred Joy is deep grief leading to hope. It is pure raw pain seeing the light of healing. Scarred Joy is weeping and not knowing if we will smile again. We never lose the scars of our grief. In the scars grief and hope are together. We walk through life being familiar with our scars yet moving forward. We move forward in hope.

My hope for Scarred Joy is that it will inspire people to move forward in their lives. We can cling to hope, whatever hope may be. My tagline for my grief work is, Touched by Grief, Held by Hope.

I do not allow other people to tell me how to grieve. I grieve in a way suited to me. I also never tell other people how to grieve. I do, however, encourage people to not be afraid of their grief. Rather, we can honour our grief. Through grieving we can teach ourselves lessons of who we are. If we listen to ourselves even in grief we may gift ourselves with compassion for other people.

Through compassion we learn to empathize with the pain of others. In the grief and death-denying context of North America compassion is vital. Compassion allows one to hug not only a loved one but also a stranger who is grieving. Compassion is recognizing our grief and that of other people can teach us we are not alone. We are in this grief together. This fact may elude some people but it is still real. I hope you will follow my Scarred Joy blog. Please comment about what your read. Even in this way we may learn from each other.

I Am One Of You!

Pain reminds me of my own humanity, vulnerability and that my emotions are part of me.

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It can grip you in a way that is difficult to explain unless one has experienced it. It is so painful that every part of you may agonize. The pain, oh my God, the pain

Scarred Joy posts do not shy away from painful experiences. This includes personal experiences. Pain reminds me of my own humanity, vulnerability and that my emotions are part of me.

I began this post referring to “it.” The “it” I want to present in this post is known as depression.

This post is not meant as a clinical explanation of causes or symptoms of depression etc. The post relates to how people, including myself, have experienced this illness. This post will note some things common in depression. The post will also present an idea of what experiencing depression is like. I will include a Scarred Joy point of hope. I am not offering an exhaustive explanation of depression.

I would like every person who will read this post and has lived depression to know one thing. I am one of you. We are bonded together. For that reason I will write this post in first person.

Depression is:

  • Like a tunnel
  • Dark even in the light
  • Messed up.
  • Day in and day out
  • For some it is fleeting and temporary, triggered by events in life
  • Avoiding conversations
  • If I can sleep I wake up tired
  • Depression makes my body, mind and soul feel tired.
  • Not wanting to end my life yet perceiving it as being without meaning.
  • Living in a tunnel and not seeing any light ahead
  • Wanting to go anywhere else but to work
  • Being with people yet lonely.
  • God is distant
  • God has left me
  • I let everyone down.
  • Acting as if life is great in order to hide from other people so they don’t know my truth.
  • Feeling dead inside
  • Being embarrassed or ashamed to let anyone know I am depressed
  • My smiles are a mask to hide my pain
  • Day to day living is tedious
  • Evenings are long and exhausting
  • Wanting to scream yet afraid other people will then know I am in pain.
  • Depression can be creative
  • It longs for companionship of loving people.
  • Depression mixes me up.

In depression I may watch the world go by. It may seem I am the only one trapped in this tunnel. I may add to my suffering by being petrified people will find out I’m in a depression.

I mean, it’s considered a mental illness, isn’t it? People will treat me different if they find out I have a mental illness. They may look at me and talk to me as if I am to be pitied. They may look beyond me, so to speak and focus on the illness. If people do that then I have no hope.

Even in my depression I have to somehow survive, right? I have to find the strength to move forward and not lie down and give up. That would be so easy to do. Allow the dark blanket of the tunnel to envelope me. To give up.

I want to survive the tunnel. To feel the warmth of the sun again. To embrace those who love and care for me. To reach out to those I think I can trust and let them know I need help. To know God remembers me. To recognize who I am.

I can’t survive depression by myself. I need those who care for me to come alongside me. Even if it seems I’m not paying attention to you, please don’t give up on me. Help me survive. I can’t do this on my own.

If any of you can feel my words as you read them, you understand. You know, I am one of you.

Please think the post through then comment.