Benefits of Pain Posted by: Dr. Matt

Embracing Loss and Grief (to receive the benefits of pain)

pain_pillsThere are 300 million prescriptions per year worldwide for pain-killers. 220 million of those are prescribed in the US.  That’s right, we have 5% of the World’s population, but we take about 75% of the worldwide supply of pain meds. 

We hate pain.  

And most of us will do anything to avoid it, be it physical or emotional.  

Pain and loss are unavoidable pieces of the human experience, and can be tremendous change-agents in our life. crying child Pain changes us.  And if suffered correctly, loss and grief can grow us.   

As a family therapist, I’ve witnessed many people wrestle with grief.  I’ve seen the pain of death, illness, infidelity, divorce, unrealized dreams, infertility, rejection, and many other forms of loss.  I was a therapist at Virginia Tech during the school shooting when 32 people were killed.  I counseled families who lost kids.  I counseled students who were shot or shot at.  No one left those experiences unchanged.  

My clients have taught me some important truths about pain:

  • Pain is normal, and a normal part of life and relationships.
    • From disappointments, to betrayal, to death, pain is part of relationship.  The only way to avoid the bitterness of the pain is to also avoid the sweetness of the relationship.  And that’s just a different kind of pain.  
  • Pain won’t kill us. We have the tool of GRIEF to deal with Loss.
    • Grief is…. A season of mourning in which we experience the pain, incorporating the loss into us, and eventually, slowly and methodically, find a newness of being.  
    • Though it hurts, experiencing the loss won’t kill you & grief over time can heal you.  Burying grief will choke you.  
    • As Jonathan Edwards once wrote, “sorrow, taken in, can expand the soul.”
  • Pain needs to be experienced and expressed.
    • Your family and culture projected messages to you about how to deal with loss
      • Suck it up (denial)
      • Bury it with busyness (distraction)
      • Over-spiritualization [“Rejoice always.  Works all things out for good”]
    • The_Lamentation_-_WGA20195But pain needs to be experienced fully and expressed fully to heal.  Pain is like water; you can try to contain it but it will eventually find the cracks.  
  • Pain is not the end. The soul can expand and heal.

    • If you’re grieving, when you grief:
      • Be compassionate to Yourself
      • Find someone helpful to grief with you
      • Know the grief will fluctuate – Grief is like the tide; it comes and goes.  At times it’s very present; at other times it’s less present

Though the pain may never fully go away, it does become livable, if not appreciable.  You can do it.