A Name for Pain

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I once had a nice chat with an acquaintance about her opinion of The Graduate Wife.  ‘Wonderful’, ‘helpful’, and ‘necessary’ were words that she threw around. She then paused for a moment and started to scuff her feet on the ground. “Sometimes it just seems a bit heavy, actually.” “Heavy?” I slowly questioned, feeling a bit defensive.

 On the way home I reviewed the conversation in my head, ultimately deciding that some of it is heavy. People are writing and sharing from their hearts about some of the hardest things they’ve ever experienced in their lives—so of course it’s going to be heavy. Even so, I found myself wishing for a do-over of our conversation so that I could ask, “Hey, what about our categories like ‘Celebrate’, ‘Food for Thought’, ‘Shuga’ Mommas’, or ‘Beauty and the Budget’? That’s not all heavy stuff, is it?”

And then it hit me.

This blog works because it is a place where heavy things are shared. Freely and safely shared. And even more, we find ourselves being invited into the heaviness of others (many we don’t even know) as we share in their beautiful journeys. Their stories are much like our own. We cry because we feel the stings ourselves; we laugh because it’s just as ridiculous and hilarious in our own lives. (We all know we dream of Keeley’s cat ranch idea every now and again.)

I started thinking about this concept of ‘heaviness’ again last week after a friend who lost her baby during childbirth sent me a beautiful picture of her son’s gravestone, adorned with flowers. They were celebrating their son on what would have been his first birthday. I have only known this amazing woman after she experienced this great loss in her life; I have only known her with great suffering in her personal story.  Still, I find her to be one of the most beautiful people I have met. Her faith has had a huge impact on where she is now, and her story of trust, pain, heartache, grace, and love all mixed together has given me great courage.  Being able to witness her journey through this suffering has been profound. She willingly let me share in her story and welcomed me into her heaviness. Talking about stillborn babies cannot be easy, yet she did; she let me ask questions, and she let me love on her in the process. I’m thankful not to have known suffering as she has, but that doesn’t mean the same pain won’t knock on my door.  I know without a doubt that if I find myself having to experience something as painful as what she has gone through, I will have courage, hope, and ultimately a stronger faith, because she did.

 She gave me a name to put with pain: her name and her story. And this, in turn, gives me courage to face the unknown ahead of me.

I feel the same about Mandy sharing about her miscarriage, or about Katherine sharing about her stroke, or about Sarah sharing about the pain and reality of sacrificing dreams for the sake of another.  I have a name to connect to pain, and I have found strength and courage in simply knowing these names, and in knowing these stories.  It’s been a gift to be able to read the stories of those a few steps ahead of me—to know that there are awesome and awful times ahead, but that I will make it through those seasons.

I hope The Graduate Wife is a place where you are able to put names and stories to pain and suffering. And perhaps such intimacy will grant you courage for the future ahead. And if you haven’t stepped out with a story of your own, whether sorrowful or joyful, please feel free share some of your story with us. Share the heavy and the light. It’s a real gift to have this space to do so.

-M.C.

{p.s. I totally just scribbled out the names at the top of this post.  I apologize to my friends (virtual ones too!) if I listed your name and wrote it out a bit sloppy.}

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4 thoughts on “A Name for Pain

  1. I just started following this blog about a month ago so I don’t necessarily know the heaviness but I think you definitely do a fabulous job of balancing it all out. We as graduate spouses have so many trials and I appreciate seeing/hearing about so many others who experience similar things that I do. Keep it up!!!

  2. We need to talk about the heavy things. I found this site while desperately searching “grad student spouse help” or something of that nature :) And I like the lighter things too.

  3. Pingback: The Top 10 Things I Learned as a Graduate Wife | the graduate wife

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