Saturday, August 22, 2020

Good words

There are a lot of things that people say about grief that are too bland or not relevant to the majority of people. Every once in awhile, though, there is someone who gets it right, and yesterday I ran across a good short description, which was all the more surprising to me considering the source:
I know how it feels to lose someone you love. I know that deep black hole that opens up in your chest. That you feel your whole being is sucked into it. I know how mean and cruel and unfair life can be sometimes.

But I’ve learned two things.

First, your loved ones may have left this Earth but they never leave your heart. They will always be with you.

And second, I found the best way through pain and loss and grief is to find purpose.
Those remarks were by Joe Biden in his speech accepting the Democratic Nomination for US President (also in video above). It came after Biden talked about those Americans lost to Covid-19, after he said, “let me take a moment to speak to those of you who have lost the most,” and then sharing what he learned from grief.

This surprised me not because of who made the remarks—everyone knows about the tragedies Biden has endured. Instead, it surprised me because of its honesty and truthfulness in the description of what grief is like. Most people don’t speak so honestly about grief, and politicians even less so. It was really good to hear it.

I agree with him that finding purpose is important, even though I’m nowhere near being able to do that. It’s difficult to find purpose when nothing makes sense anymore, and when everything in life seems disconnected from us. Obviously, it’s easier for some people to find a sense of purpose than it is for others, but the sense in the advice is also obvious, even when it’s currently unrealisable, as it is for me.

We need more people to speak honestly and openly about their grief journeys, especially what helped them to move through it. That's what I try to do. More than that, we especially need more politicians to speak about it, and it’s refreshing to hear one express compassion and empathy for others who are struggling. That seems to be far too rare these days, which makes it needed all the more.

Every political speech by someone I support always has one or more things that particularly resonate with me, and I imagine that’s true for most people. That means others will take away from the speech other points that resonate with them. That’s nothing new. And while I’ve also heard a few (very few) politicians who could sincerely express empathy for others, it’s very different to hear a political leader talk about something I’m going through with the moral authority of someone who’s actually gone through it, too.

Some will dismiss his words on grief, I know, but most of them would never support him, anyway, so I don’t care about their feelings about the speech. Instead, I think it’s important to applaud a politician who leads the way even on such human and emotional matters, because it feels like it’s been missing for many years.

Joe Biden won’t win or lose because of that one section in his acceptance speech, and it’s unlikely even to sway many, if any, voters. That’s not the point. Joe Biden spoke directly to people like me with kindness and empathy and compassion. I sincerely hope he can bring that back into the White House.


Roger Owen Green said...

I still wish he had run in 2016, though I understood why he did not.

Arthur Schenck said...

If only…