The toughest thing to watch in life isn’t a gruesome horror movie or a tightrope walker going across a canyon. I promise you, watching someone suffering through pain - emotional and/or physical - will be harder to cope with than anything else you feel is tough to watch.
I can raise my hand and say that I have been to a total of six funerals and have seen some of the emotional trauma people are suffering. I know how hard it is being young and seeing your parents crying, not knowing whether you can or can’t cry with them. That feeling of needing to be strong for the emotionally vulnerable is something I’ve become very familiar with.
I have also seen friends and family go through periods of depression and again not known what to do. I have learnt that it’s OK to feel down and it’s OK to cry when the people you love are going through dark emotional times. It's OK to not know what to do. Just be there for them and be listening in their time of need. Sometimes, you have to be strong to even do that.
Physical trauma can be hard to watch also because you know the person can be feeling embarrassed or helpless. I work at a football club where people are getting injured all the time, but that doesn’t stop them from wanting to play. Witnessing a struggling player trying keep going is difficult, especially when you have to be the one to break the bad news that they just can't play because of the severity of their injury. Just to be supportive and caring you have to be strong.
The most common form of both physical and emotional pain I have seen is in people with cancer. I have noticed that often it’s the patients themselves who remain the strongest - they feel they have to be strong for everyone else. Cancer affects not just the person with the disease, but also those who love them. It seems to me like a battle fought as an army, not just by a single soldier - and even though it is hard, others have to fight alongside the one suffering.
It's good to remember that time gives opportunity for healing and we need to keep hopeful and optimistic through the times we watch the people we love suffer. Now that is tough!
It’s hard to watch, but it’s a privilege to love people through their pain.
by Bridget Chadwick
Have you had to watch people go through pain? What did you do well? What helped you to be strong for someone you cared about?