Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2012 Nancy Virden
They say when one is staring down his or her own death, the past flashes by like a fast-forwarded movie. Loss also can bring silent movies back to the darkened theater of the mind.
Her home was empty. She sat with ever-present memories to keep herself company, and to wish for happy ones. Try as she could, pleasant remembrances were elusive, and minute after minute she saw the faces of those who were no longer here.
Pains ran through her body accompanying sobs from she knew not where. Pressing in around her, and especially near her shoulders, was an anguished heaviness she could not describe. In her middle stirred fear.
How will she go on to tomorrow without them? Yet she had endured so many such days already. There was nothing like Christmas to bring the hurt to the surface, and to get the old film reels turning. Some loved-ones had passed away. Others had walked out of her life, deserting her to recollections that were growing harder to retrieve. A few people had been gone for decades.
How will she go on without them?
Outside, children played in the snow. She watched one bright-eyed boy in particular as he flopped himself down with ease onto his back and started gliding his arms and legs wide then back to his body. An angel. She was certain he was an angelic child, sweet to raise. He had lucky parents.
Sigh. She thought, I wish I had a little boy like that.
Her mind roamed to her family tree. Grandparents, great-grandparents, and all the great-greats took her back to the 1500s where her genealogy research had ended. Then it hit her. All of these people she wondered about, each of the ones for whom she longed, every one had something in common.
They were gone. Gone! Their lives were part of her past, and if she could say, “I have a past,” it meant she was here now.
It may seem trite to others, nevertheless was an epiphany for this woman. People who had been here had their chance at life. Some had made decisions that blessed her, and others caused her harm. What now?
She had decisions to make, the most foundational of which was who did she want to be? Did she want to remain the lonely, depressed, woman who sat alone during the holiday season? If she wanted to be a different kind of person, one who celebrated her own chance at life, what step could she take today toward becoming that person?
Activity outside her window had not stopped. Donning her coat and best snowman-building gloves, she walked outside to meet her next door neighbors.
NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.