I took today’s column title from the very great REM song, Everybody Hurts. I also happen to love The Corrs’ version of it as well (see above). The lyrics are incredibly deep for a rock ‘n’ roll song, though I’m not sure that REM can be so simply classified in a music genre. Regardless, these lyrics are important and touched me the other day as I was walking and thinking. I do some of my best thinking when I walk around a small lake near our home.
Take comfort in your friends. Everybody hurts.
Don’t throw your hand. Oh, no. Don’t throw your hand
If you feel like you’re alone, no, no, no, you are not alone
There have been a number of senseless deaths among high school kids in our community, recently. Some by their own hand, another by an accidental drug or alcohol overdose where his friends, and I use that word loosely, apparently stood by when he died, afraid to call for help. Tragic.
My older son knew one of the boys who took his own life. In fact, that young man had slept over at our house numerous times. They grew apart when my son was no longer interested in hanging around kids whose number one interest in life was partying. But, they had history and my son was deeply affected.
He was also angry. Angry at his perception of the selfishness the act of suicide is so very often. Angry for the hurt this young man left behind. Angry at the violence of the act he chose and the spit-in-your-face message he seemed to be sending his parents. Apparently, his parents were only guilty of indulging their son too much, but that is another topic altogether.
There was a candlelight vigil at my son’s high school. I attended. Everybody hurt. Everybody was touched.
It is human nature to compare ourselves with others, to think that others may have it better, easier, or be luckier than we are. And, it’s usually not true. As the mother of a friend of a friend said, “The ONLY happy people I know are people I don’t know well.”
If ever there was a truism, it is that. Everybody Hurts. Everybody has his or her demons. They’re just not your demons.
Empathy is a Gift From God
Empathy is a gift from God. Empathy gives you the choice to try and understand another person’s hurts, feelings, and emotions. Empathy is a good thing.
These deaths in our community briefly rallied people around the idea that we need to reach out to those we know are hurting. We need to encourage them to seek help, seek counsel, and seek spiritual relief.
I challenge YOU to look a bit closer at those you see who might need a helping hand. I challenge you to step out of your own worries and problems, as large or small as they may be, and direct your energy towards helping others and really seeing others. They may need YOU.
Life Returns to Normal
What struck me the most was my son’s comment the day after the memorial, candlelight vigil. He was still reeling from the events, still very much affected, and was stunned at what seemed to be just another normal day at school. He declared, “How could it be just another day at school?” with a degree of confusion and angst.
I comforted my son and reminded him that most people are caught in their own struggles, and that many people at his school didn’t know his friend and maybe just didn’t care. I reminded him that not everyone feels the same about any particular event in their lives. And, I reminded him that he couldn’t possibly really know what was going on inside the hearts and minds of all those that he perceived had just returned to the normalcy of school life.
Nothing Replaces Real Life!
I’ve often extolled the virtues of Social Media. The invaluable wonders that meeting people from all over the world has provided me and so much more that we all can receive from Social Media. I’ve encouraged parents to step out of their comfort zones and join the worlds of Social Media simply to be in the same worlds that their children live in.
All the extolling notwithstanding, NOTHING replaces Real Life! Just as I’ve extolled the virtues of Social Media, I’ve been very clear that those relationships that have extended beyond the confines of Twitter, Facebook, texting, and e-mails are the relationships that have ultimately mattered the most (to me).
This is where the Everybody Hurts idea comes back into play. Social Media and superficial intimacy are just that – superficial. People only open up when there is comfort and a feeling of safety and trust from their friends and family.
Please realize that Everybody Hurts and please take the time to look into the eyes of those you love, your friends, and maybe reach out a hand, a comforting word, and touch another person. Nothing feels better.
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