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When Our Loved Ones Suffer

When a loved one experiences something hurtful and is suffering, I think the instinct for most of us is to identify silver linings and do what we can to fix things.

As a parent to 13 and 11-year old boys, I've come to feel that while there is value in trying to be helpful when they are feeling down, what I'd most like to do beyond offering empathy and a comforting presence is to have them feel the belief that I have in them to eventually find a way to a better place, to transcend their suffering through their own thoughts and efforts.

I developed vitiligo when I was 19, and the experience of having my physical appearance change in a significant way at a relatively young age shaped the father I have become. For years, I worried that if our boys experienced too much stress or felt unloved by those closest to them, they might also develop vitiligo since they may have a genetic predisposition for it.

But at some point, my thinking on this evolved. I woke up to the reality that I cannot immunize them to every potential type of suffering as they walk through life. Pain and suffering are, after all, unavoidable along the arc of any person's journey.

So rather than focus on minimizing potential stressors in their lives and be on standby to help fix things when they might be down about something, I am striving to let them know verbally and non-verbally that above all else, I believe in their resilience. I believe that no matter what type of trauma or hurt life brings them, physical or emotional, they have it within themselves to create brighter days ahead. And often, the portal to transcending our wounds is embracing a life of service, a mindset of doing what we can to help others help themselves.

If you connect with these thoughts, I think you'll find the following video about a Korean-Chinese burn survivor named Cui Lina worth taking in:

Raising my goblet to Cui Lina and all others who are transforming their wounds into brighter days for all.


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