Recently, I passed someone who was crying, sitting just outside the hospital where I work part of the week. I stopped and asked her if she was OK. We shared a story and talked about what had happened to her that morning. We ended up laughing about the healing power of chocolate and when I left she was more cheerful then when I first started talking to her. However, this lady didn’t realise that actually she’d done a great kindness to me. When I saw her, I was feeling really sad, having just found out that a child had died, from a family I had been working with. In my role on Paediatric Intensive Care this sadly does happen sometimes and it’s always awful when it does. No one can witness the death of a child and not be impacted.
Although (unless she reads this blog) the crying lady will never know, her capacity to be open about her difficult morning helped me to feel less alone in the world. Our stories were different (I didn’t even share mine) and our struggles were personal, and for both of us, part of a bigger picture that fitted into the context of our everyday lives.
Hearing the lady’s story didn’t make me feel less sad. It didn’t make the death less awful. But it did make me feel less alone. Her kindness was that she accepted my approach (she could have asked me just to leave her alone, or worse, just completely ignored me, and given her distress, she would have had every right to do either). She was able to take a risk and trust a stranger with her story. Her story was also, fundamentally, one of love and to witness such love between two people you don’t know and be allowed a glimpse into their feelings helps you to see good in the world, especially at a time when the world order seems to be all wrong, as it does when a child dies.
I don’t have any more point to make than this. Sometimes talking helps. I hope it helped that lady that day. And sometimes it doesn’t just help you but it helps others too. And every kindness which is offered or accepted is another little piece of love demonstrated in the world.
“Kindness is a simple way to tell another struggling soul that there is love to be found in this world” (Apparently this was said by Rumi in the 13th Century, and certainly it seems a universal truth – not just one for the 21st century).
Just think how amazing the world would be with a little more kindness. Difficult, hard, awful things will always happen. Such is the nature of life. But kindness helps us to bear this. So please, whenever you can, be kind. You’ve no idea what kind of day the other person is having.
I hope that lady is doing OK, where ever she is. I don’t even know her name, but I care very much that things go OK for her.
Now, I’m off to find some chocolate.