What I learned from people who are in pain. Do not add insult to injury.


While volunteering at Bodhi meditation, I recently met a lot of caregivers, who have been depleted of energy and have been sick. One particular group of people had a profound impact on me – the diverse groups of Latinas and Filipinas. They did not have a lot to say but by their questions or small comments, I can only guess that they were the bankers or sole financial support system of their clan or families.

What do you tell a person, who has given it all but in her most trying time, feels unappreciated by the family she supports from overseas?  What do you tell a person, who feels unworthy and questions what she has to live for, when she feels that nobody in her family thinks of her – after all her hardships earning minimum wage overseas? What do you tell a person who is the banker in her clan?

They have every right to be angry. Why can they not be angry? They gave up everything to live alone in a country to support family back home for decades.  They take care of other people’s family, even if their heart wants to take care of their own, because they are forced to find employment overseas due to high unemployment rate or corruption? Still, they manage to do so with heart and integrity.

There was a time when I wanted to go into the “angry/you are right to be angry” tirade with them but something inside me stopped myself. Doing so will add insult to their injury.  Everything has energy so it is good to “shift” people “up” instead of “bring them down”. Healing is a complicated process and it can have many phases and ways.  At that time, I can only listen, not do any pep talking.

These are people, who sacrificed a lot for their families. They are already in pain.
These are people, who feel alone and unappreciated by their own families. They are already in pain.

There is no need to remind them of their pain, the cause of their pain or their unappreciative family members. It is good to remind them of their true character and compassionate, nurturing heart.

These are people who are most compassionate and giving. In the midst of pain, they just forgot.
These people gave up because they are selfless, fearless, strong and responsible. In the midst of pain, they just forgot.
These people take care of others. In the midst of pain, they forgot to take care of themselves.

On the other side of the coin, healing is a complicated process. It takes a bold heart to see two sides of the story, to let go and forgive.  Master JinBodhi said at one interview, one of the ways to handle negative emotions like anger is to have a broader understanding, which implied a person’s perspective.

In this particular group of people, I can imagine that while the parents had the right intentions to work overseas to send money back to their families, their actions also affected their own children and relatives. What do you do as a child if you feel abandoned or lonely? There are so many factors that can affect children. What do you do as a child if you feel ridiculed for lack of resources or parent onsite?  One thing for sure, they are in pain somehow – much like the parents who worked overseas. This is the reason why they cannot appreciate the parents’ hardwork and sacrifices.  I wonder what the story is in the children’s heads and heart?

I am learning that there is a fine line to everything, how our mind is tricked by the ego, how stories in our head tell us one thing – regardless of whether or not the thought serves us or not. Either way, it is there causing us either happiness or suffering.

I hope this particular blog is read by one or more OFW (overseas foreign worker) who may find solace or comfort in these words. “I am sorry that you had to go through all your pain and sacrifices to feed your family. You probably went through a lot of loneliness and hardships. If I was your child, I am grateful for your hard work and sacrifices. You are an inspiration. I learn to appreciate what I have and to work harder. It is not easy for you to live on your own. I may not see your point of you all the time because it is not easy for me at times too. However, we can move forward ahead.  Please forgive me. I am sorry too. Slowly, we can grow out of the pain and one day be free of it.  Please continue to be strong and giving. Please take care of yourself too because you take care of us too.  I also forgive you. I miss you. I love you.”

I send love to those parents, caregivers, and people who care and sacrifice a lot to benefit others. You may make hard choices that have difficult consequences but your heart is still beautiful.  May God give you more strength, more blessings and miracles. God bless you all.

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