Everyone has a story.
While waiting in the airport recently, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between two younger women, strangers initially but soon to become friends. One was leaving town for work, the other was going back home to pack her things because she was coming back to care for her grandmother who is dying and only has a few weeks left to live. That last part was what caught my attention.
In the midst of sharing her story she also mentioned that she had just ended a long and toxic relationship and was thankful to be leaving town, just wishing it were under different circumstances. She said she was dealing with a lot, and that she felt alone. I watched as the other woman handed her a business card and said, “since you do not know anyone here, feel free to call me, I would be happy to make you feel welcome here and less alone.”
I pulled out my card, handed it to her, and said, “I am a hospice nurse, please feel free to email me with any questions you might have.” I also gave her my “At the Bedside” book and invited her to visit my website for blogs, podcasts, and classes… all of which might offer some guidance and support. She started to cry, I started to cry, and when I looked around to all the others in our row, I saw that they were crying too. A woman handed each of us a Kleenex. An older man next to me, leaned in and said that his wife had just died, and said that their hospice team was wonderful. A woman two seats down said she cared for her mom before she died and offered a FB page which really helped her, “The Hospice Heart.” Smiling, I let her know that I created that page, and she started to cry as she thanked me for offering the support and information provided on that page. This conversation touched me in so many ways. I loved the way complete strangers came together to help this young woman feel supported and less alone.
I told the young girl what a gift it was for her grandmother that she was going to be there for her, but that it would also be hard, and reminded her to be sure to practice self-care. The others who had chimed in before all agreed. They called our flight and we all started gathering our things, and as each person in the row passed the young woman, they extended kindness, good thoughts, and many let her know she was not alone. It was beautiful to witness.
We all have a story; we’ve all been through something difficult, and life has a way of throwing obstacles in our path whether it be unhealthy relationships, work problems, family issues, life, love, or death. But the one thing we can do to comfort another is to let them know they are not alone. Community can be built quickly when compassion and kindness is present, and words can bring peace to those who are aching. Know that something you might say could change the way another person is feeling… let's do more of that.
Photo credit: https://www.redbubble.com/people/Bellefleurista/shop