What Brings you comfort?

It has been a busy week. My daughter’s kitchen was flooded, my mother in law fell, my sister Mary with Down Syndrome and Alzheimers is having moments of acting out, my uncle was placed in memory care and we will visit tomorrow. Client X is raw with grief and planning a trip to “just get out of here.” Client Y feels that she is loosing her faith and belief in God. Client Z needed placing in a mental health unit for protection in his grief. Some days, some weeks are more painful than others.

It is a good day to seek comfort. People, even clients, will ask, “How can you do this day after day?” “How do you take care of yourself?” In my department we ask each other the same question. It is the same question I ask my clients. Tonight I turned to spaghetti, Modern Family, a bath and music. Going for a walk is always good. Some days it is a bigger hunk of chocolate than the usual small square.

I always ask my clients early on in our sessions, “What gives you comfort?’ “What do you seek for support when you are hurting?” Many times I receive a blank stare. Who would know the answer to that question in such rawness? That is a fair response. Who would know when all we want is the one we love? But I let the question sink in. Maybe in a week or a month the body, the mind, or the spirit might offer up the answer. I need to start reading novels to quiet my mind. I need to have some quiet reflection time every morning. I turn on the tv to get to sleep. I like to turn on music really loud and cry. I buy myself flowers as he would have done. I might hear, I have been drinking every day. I just want to go to a bar and meet someone. I turn on the tv and sleep with it on all night. I don’t turn out the lights. It is the only thing that gets me through.

There are as many unique answers to this question as there are people and losses. Maybe comfort is that which makes us feel at home with ourselves. Or maybe it is simply something to help ground us. Or maybe to help us be somewhere away from the pain or to be in a state of numbing ourselves from the pain. In our pain and loss we ache for the familiar to take a break from the new world that is opening before us. To be someplace where we can feel at home and be ourselves.  Maya Angelou in All Gods Children Need Traveling Shoes states that “The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Away from any judgement and attempts at smoothing things over, both from others and ourselves. The spiral is a good symbol of this journey of comfort as we empty ourselves on the journey in, find our center, sit in peace, allow ourselves to be filled and then bring that which we find back out into the world, into our own soul.

So, it is a good day to remind myself that every home in my community has a story of loss. No one is immune. We can’t compare. Whose pain is worse, more? We each are called to live out our story as it appears. It is a good day to remember that simply looking someone in the eyes and smiling can change the world of that individual for a bit of time. Someone smiling at me gives me a lift into peace and joy. It is how we care for each other, even the strangers that we might be, not knowing what effect we make in the world but always believing we are all of consequence. We all matter. We all make a difference.

At David’s on the way to Astorga on the Camino Frances

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