How many people do we meet on a daily basis that are suffering anguish of one kind or another?
But what do people do? We greet each other and say “How are you?” and we always smile and answer “fine..how about you?”
And if the shades were not drawn over the carefully – guarded agonies—- people might share their anguish or sorrow or heavy burdens.
Anguish comes in many ways and shapes and forms. Job losses with income losses…..terrible situations at a workplace with almost unbearable stress that can scarcely be borne. But people try to go on in the best way they can.
Loved ones die or become seriously ill…but we still say “fine” when someone asks “how are you?”
Children stray away from parents or take an awful turn down a bad or dangerous or destructive path but we are still “Fine” when asked how we are.
What is it about human nature that makes us do this?
Mostly we do not want to show how much anguish we are bearing or suffering.
We also do not want to burden others with it…even our best and most dear friends…we try to keep a lid on it and keep it to ourselves with terrible consequences…..physical illnesses, sleep loss that goes on and on….emotional or mental breakdowns that disable people so badly they cannot function normally until they get some postive form of relief…or help.
Oh yes…people we know so well are so good at keeping it to themselves; we get taught to do that…
“Big Boys don’t cry”
“Don’t burden others with your troubles”
“Keep a stiff upper lip”
“You’ll get over it”
“It’s not so bad”
“I have no reason to feel this way..what iw wrong with me?”
How many more destructive things can be said or can we say to ourselves?
How many lies can we tell others —-and ourselves.
We have such a high rate of suicide among younger people and also among other age groups. Is it any wonder we do?
Holding anguish inside is the worst thing a person can do to themselves or to others who love them.
Is it worse among certain ethnic groups or backgrounds? Are the northern Europeans…the British, the Scandinavians, the Germans, the Poles….are they more likely to “keep a stiff upper lip and hide anguish from others.?
Do the more emotional of ethnics like Italians, Greeks and Spaniards suffer less from NOT holding grief anguish, sorrow, anxiety inside themselves?
Do people of Asian heritage do this to themselves also?
Does one’s spiritual condition affect this?
We have to be carefully taught….there is a song from SOUTH PACIFIC that says those very words…
“you have to be carefully taught”.
The song is about prejudice against people of color or others who are different from us but it is a musical lesson in holding anguish inside, too.
I am feeling contemplative due to having a bit of anguish in my own life but I am not holding it in. It has been a long stretch starting with the grief at the death of a dear, beloved brother in law but it is nore than that.
This life is not a bed of roses nor are we promised a trouble – free life—at all times adn seasons. The old testament book of Ecclesiastes says a great deal on this subject; it was written by Solomon who had a seemingly charmed and wealthy and wonderful life..but he did not escape from anguish either no matter how much wealth he had.
Life is hard in many ways. When we hear of other’s anguish (as I have recently) it is a grief shared if you have compassion in your soul.
That is why so many people turn out at funerals even if they do not know the person who died very well…they KNOW the anguish of the sorrowing ones and they know that being there for them is a way of sharing it—even wordlessly.
There is a familar story about a little boy or girl who went to see a neighbor who had lost a long time spouse. The parents asked her/him what had been said to him and the child said ” I didn’t say anything..I just put my arms around him and cried with him.”
But first we have to share what is causing us our anguish…then others who truly care and are loving and compassoinate can put their arms around others and cry with them.
It is one of the best parts of living this life of tears and trouble…it is one of the best things about human beings.