Pain, It’s something we all go through in our lives. It could be physical pain such as falling out of a tree and breaking your leg, or it could be mental pain such as losing a loved one or watching a loved one go through physical pain that has no cure. We all know the feeling of both physical and mental pain on some level, yet no matter how much you try to understand the pain someone is going through, you can never truly understand. That is a truth that I learned recently.
My older sister had endured an 8-hour back surgery in March of last year. After surgery, the back pain she had been dealing with for years had almost completely dissipated, and she had returned to normal life activities, like driving, walking, and biking. She was even looking ahead to attending college in the fall. Unexpectedly, a burning sensation flared up in her left foot in April. We came to find out, after weeks of confusion and concern, that she had a neurological syndrome resulting from her back surgery she endured in the spring.
On a foggy, rainy May day, Jordyn’s pain rose to “unbearable.” My mom made the decision that my sister needed to go to the hospital, if for no other reason than to get pain medicine to at least let my sister deal with the pain.
As the ambulance pulled down the soaked driveway, tears covered my face. Watching my sister literally crying out in pain for weeks was the most mentally draining experience of my life. Little did I know the next weeks ahead would be even more draining.
I never knew how mentally painful it is to watch someone you love more than life itself go through gut-wrenching pain. People always say they wish they could bear the pain instead of watching their loved one go through it. I never understood that until the foggy, rainy May day when I watched the ambulance drive down our driveway with Jordyn, screaming, inside.
Yet even after these thoughts cycled through my head, after I had watched my sister literally cry out in pain lying on her bed for weeks, after I thought I understood how bad pain can be, I realized I knew nothing. I watched the flashing white and red lights in the fog and knew I still didn’t understand. You can never TRULY understand. You’ll want to; you’ll try to. But you will never know.
Never tell someone who is going through pain, “I understand.” Never tell someone who is witnessing a loved one in an unbearable situation, “I understand.” Maybe you’ve been through similar pain. Maybe you’ve been through a similar situation. Maybe you long to help.
But, I’m sorry, you don’t understand.