There are so many levels of pain in the world, and each individual person has their own personal Richter scale based on individual experiences. Your childhood, upbringing, relationships, and adult interactions all factor in to what people think of when they talk about a “painful” experience. And we all encounter pain in different ways—some of us close down emotionally, while some express it outwardly. We grieve in stages, in different cycles of those stages over time, quickly, slowly, back and forth again.
When I lost my sister to suicide a year and a half ago, it was the worst pain I’d ever experienced. I lost my best friend. Every day since, I’ve missed her, and a day hasn’t gone by that I haven’t wished for her to be around, to offer her unique perspective on the world, to bring her humor and wisdom to my life, to tell me everything is/was/will be okay, that the “haters” we encounter along the way are insignificant middle-schoolers. Now, my 13-year-old, who often reminds me so much of my sister, is the one to echo these words.
When incidents or people come along in my life and I’m reminded that there’s true evil in the world, it’s rare. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by the love of friends and family the majority of the time. But when bad things happen, my sister isn’t here to remind me that this too will pass. Other “sister friends” fill in, and it helps.
But pain is never the same once you’ve been through something as awful as losing a sister to suicide. The pain I felt the day I walked into the closet where she took her life—the massive wave of it, how it nearly knocked me down; I can still feel it to this day if I allow myself to, which I very rarely do—that pain could never be matched.
So, now, when even the most evil thing or evil person arrives at my life’s door, I’m numb in a way, because I can’t be hurt in that part of me that’s already been scarred so deeply. But I am surprised. I always see the best in people, and can’t believe it when someone sets out to hurt me, because I’d never intentionally hurt another person. I don’t imagine someone would plan to be cruel to a person, and so I don’t see it coming. I’m vulnerable then, and I do get hurt. But not anywhere near as deeply in my soul and my heart as before I lost my sister.