It’s been a rough few months for my family. My Uncle Jim recently passed away and it really hit many in our family hard. He was a good man with a huge heart and a sense of duty to people that was beyond what you see in most.
My father passed away before I was two years old. My uncle lived in Vermont when Dad died and right away decided he was moving his entire family back home, right outside of Pittsburgh. He needed to be there for his brother’s family, us. I didn’t know that part of my family history until very recently. That gave me a deeper appreciation for him and his family.
You see, my uncle was dealing with a lot physical sickness before he passed away. My brother and sisters took the time to make the check in phone calls and quick turnaround trips to spend time with him and my Pittsburgh family. He loved to tell stories of when he and my dad were growing up and how much he loved my dad and us.
Our last trip there, he was trying to understand better what I did with training and working in suicide prevention. He also wanted to understand why I decided to work in this field. My uncle was very hard of hearing so almost every conversation was more yelling than talking. Instead of trying to tell him why I do this work, I pulled my website up on my phone and clicked to my story. I handed him my phone. He silently read it. He read about the abusive stepfather, the bullying roommates and all the other pieces. I watched his face go from interest to confusion to pain and sadness to understanding to hope. When he finally handed me the phone, his eyes were glistening with tears. He said, “I am so sorry you had to go through all that.” I looked at that strong man with tears in my own eyes and said, “I’m good now Uncle Jim. I’m right here.”
What happened next took me be surprise. He was leaning back on the couch again when he turned to me and asked, “Your story said that you wanted to die because you felt like you were a burden to everyone, that right?” I told him he was right. Then he looked down with pain in his eyes and said, “I understand that.” I leaned closer just to make sure he knew I heard him. I squeezed his hand to quietly assure that he wasn’t a burden. He turned his eyes back to me with a gentle smile.
We had both experienced the weight of feeling like a burden. Mine is in the past, most of the time. His was very present. In that moment of understanding and sharing each other’s pain, we were able to share hope. Even though he realized that his time with us was growing short, he was able to see a little hope that his family loved him far too much for him to be a burden.
My Uncle Jim was a veteran. He was a wonderful husband and father who loved his entire family with one of the deepest loves I’ve ever experienced. The heart he possessed radiated love, kindness and passion. That’s what I saw when I looked at him, even that day. That’s the man I will always see. A man that in the middle of his pain shared the pain with me and in that moment together, we found a small sparkle of hope.
We all have those times of intense pain, whether it’s physical or emotional. Pain that tries to hide hope. It may be right in front of us but it’s hard for us to see or feel because of that overwhelming ache. These are the times when we may have to find someone we trust to share our pain with and just let it out even a little. Sometimes, it is those moments of sharing that let us know we are not a burden.
Take a moment and think of someone who you trust enough to share your pain with. Someone who will listen without judgement or giving advice. That’s a person who can help hope enter your story. Who is it? I know that sometimes it’s hard to think of a person to fit that description. You can even look through the contacts on your phone or through your Facebook friends. It may remind you of someone your mind can’t bring up on its own.
Grab your phone and call or text them and let them know you appreciate them for letting you share your pain and help you find hope.
I would love it if you would tell me about that person. Why do you trust them?