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Sunday, October 31, 2010: An Empath: Surviving a Memorial Service

        I had plenty of my own emotions to get past, concerning the suicide of one of my son’s best friends. B. was one of the neatest kids. He could have moved into our house and I would not have minded, and that says a great deal, because usually I tolerated outside intrusions for the sake of my boys’ social development, rather than because I enjoyed the company of other people’s children.

          Having heard the news from my son (at a point where he was lost in his own disbelief, his own grief), I let my son talk until his world stopped reeling.  I made sure he would not be alone and made him promise to call in the morning.  Sleep did not come easy to me that night. I no longer believe in being the detached mystic who remains above the world’s suffering.  I fully accept the human side of suffering, believing that emotions connect us, not only to the complex richness that makes up the process of living, but to the lives of others, that what is gained from that acceptance is worth the discomfort of any feelings that sweep through.

         The morning after I had received news of B.’s suicide, I sat in a long meditation, opening my heart to my own pain and sorrow, collecting it tenderly within my heart and then pushing it upward toward the Divine, releasing it back into the reality of the all-inclusive. When my heart was emptied of attachments to the sorrow, able to take in and feel the fullness of the pain while still letting it flow freely back out, then I tackled the sorrow and pain of my son, of his friend, and of his friend’s parents.  I kept enlarging the circle of people who I knew were reeling from the tragedy.  The meditation took over two hours, and there was a calmness when I finished.

          In circumstances like this you want to help and support. You want to be the life line to which other people can cling.  I’m aware how hard this would be for anyone, but as an empath, I fully anticipated being hit by everyone else’s emotions as well. The day before the memorial service I discovered another technique for dealing with the sorrow: I would take in the pain and sorrow with each inward breath, then let each out-breath push the emotions downward into the ground. I opened my heart and became a clear channel, the sorrow flowing unrestricted through me and down into the earth. This actually ended up being far easier and more effective than trying to collect emotions and release them into the heavens.

         I would like to say I went to the memorial and served as a life line for everyone else. I didn’t.  The pain was sharp and jagged, and I walked through a mine-field of people, all of whom were struggling to hold it together, only to find emotions breaking through regardless.   I watched whoever was closest move in to support. Those who were supported accepted the shoulder, then moved on to help someone else. The young kids, (B. was only 23) were amazing in their awareness of old classmates who needed a smile of encouragement or a hug. They stood close together in the meeting hall watching a video display of old photos, pressing together as if to reassure themselves that there were other survivors. They stood together along the sides of the hall, calling up old memories of better times with B., and trying to make sense of Life’s unpredictability.

         I gave support as best I could. When my own tears came, hearing individuals breaking down in audible sobs, feeling the waves of grief filling the church, I let the tears flow and did not try to hold them back.  I held my own heart open. It was not the way I hoped I would be at the memorial. For an empath, for a parent, for a friend, maybe that’s the best I could have expected.

      If you are an empath, you will have two basic choices: become detached, rise above the crowd and then focus your energy so you radiate love and peace downward to those in pain, or ride the waves that move through the crowd, holding out your hand to touch those that drift past. It will definitely hurt less to be emotionally detached, but you will be denying part of your own identity if you stand apart from the life you were given to live.

         As a woman over 60, as a mystic who believes the Divine has created and now sustains all realities, I can only suggest that pain and suffering have far less power than people believe. Give up the fear. Embrace life on its own terms, and know there is something that lies beyond negative emotions. 

Posted on Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 11:36AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

I'm so glad I read this. It's beautiful.

Loved being reminded how to breathe in the pain and push it to the ground with the out breath.
December 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKass

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