Thoughts on Pain and Grief

I know what pain feels like. Pain of abandonment, pain of abuse, pain of illness, pain of a broken heart, pain of child birth, pain of loss and pain of grief. I have felt it in the past. I feel it today. And I’m fairly certain I will feel it in the future. Pain is an integral part of the nature of life.


Most of us try to avoid pain at all cost and understandably so. It is NOT pleasant. But as I grow older, I realize that often it is precisely when we experience the pain that we are growing in inexplicable ways. I am not advocating for sadism or to look for ways to experience pain or even to try to relish in it. Pain has a way of finding us wherever we are. We don’t have to look for it. I contend we do however benefit when we allow ourselves to experience the pain instead of trying to wriggle out of it, for it is only when we endure the pain that we can learn from it.


I have had the wonderful opportunity to birth three children, and I chose to do so naturally without pain medication. I didn’t realize at the time how profound this decision would be as I believe these experiences were some of the most defining moments of my life. The preparation for natural child birth involved exercises in breathing and focusing that essentially were meditative exercises. The premise was that I was to focus on a point intently during a contraction, breathe and allow my body to completely relax except for the sections where the body must do the work to birth the child. Early on in my first marathon labor, I developed nausea and asked for medication to control that. However, the Phenergan caused me to be sleepy and unable to focus during contractions. Consequently, I was unable to relax during the pain. I found myself fidgeting, wriggling my feet, an attempt to escape that moment of pain. As soon as that wore off, I refused anything else because I sensed intuitively that I needed all of my concentration to focus, breathe and relax during the painful contractions. I was training myself to STAY during the pain. What I learned from the pain of childbirth is that through the intense pain, beautiful new life springs forth!


You may say, the babies would have been born even if I had pain medication. Yes, of course. I realize that. Yet I wouldn’t have had the experience of knowing what it is like to endure such intense pain and knowing that not only would I survive, but the end result would be so magnificent. I think of other pains I have suffered and how the end result may not have seemed so glorious at the time. That is exactly why I am so grateful for my experiences with childbirth: for having endured the most intense pain of my life, I instantly saw the fruit of my labor. But often we undergo tremendous pain and the new life that springs from it is nowhere to be seen. The thing is I KNOW IT IS THERE NOW. No matter how elusive that new life may seem, it is so very real, as real as that crying babe that has been laid on my breast. And it is so beautiful.


So, I don’t despair though I endure the pain. I focus, breathe and relax. New life is on the way out.