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Hearing Heartache


What the heck does that even mean? Heartache and grief are everywhere. You can't walk out your front door without face planting right into it. My questions to you is do you hear it, can you see it, is your heart open to it?

I now have what seems like an entire pharmacy at my house at all times. Who knew that a single person could have so many medical supplies at their own home that it would require multiple containers to hold it all. As I walked down the aisles at Target, post ICU stay, I have to admit that my emotions were peaking. I had no tears running down face but it wouldn't take much to open the flood gates. Two days of battling insurance companies and emotionally spent was the title I was carrying. I walked with my gaze lowered, eye contact could have been a catalyst for an epic meltdown. The feeling of so many emotions swarming me, made my own skin uncomfortable. While walking, I couldn't help looking down the aisles that lead to the pharmacy. So many people standing there waiting. What is their story? My mind wandered. Previous to that moment I had personally already left the Niagra Falls of tears at a few pharmacies getting our new system of supplies in order. I looked at one lady in particular that seemed to have something on her mind. She looked so sad and my heart went out to her. I didn't know the story behind her unconscious body language but I could see the pain behind her glazed eyes.

I kept walking where I ran into a few teenage girls. They were giggling and being sassy a bit louder than I cared to be around. Apparently, they also needed plastic containers, so there I stood in the isle with them. I listened to their conversation as it was one I simply couldn't escape at the volume they were speaking. The drama that was talked about seemed immediately trivial before I thought "shame on me". That's their reality right now. It's clearly upsetting to them and how dare I judged their hurt hearts. Regardless of what their issues were they were 100% upset in their teenage way. It's not my place to think their heart isn't hurting any more than mine in that moment. I grabbed my containers and began the walk back up to the cash registers. I passed by a group of boys that were having entirely too much fun in the toothpaste aisle. I have to admit that their laughter and ridiculous jokes made me giggle. They had not a care in the world in that moment other than wondering if they could make that toothpaste explode. So carefree and for second so was I.

I started to look up all the other people in the store. Some happy, some stoic, some clearly upset, hurried, lackadaisical, joyful, inquisitive, impatient. My cashier was angry. It was beyond apparent that he was having one heck of a day. Brisk with his words and short jerky movements as he bagged my items. It would have only taken one wrong word from me and I'm sure he would have gone over the edge. I did not cause this anger but it was being poured over me as I tried to check out. We were two people having two rough days in the the same moment together with two totally different responses to each other. He was consumed by whatever heartache tripped him up today. I don't know his story. It could have been a bad day at work or it could have been a family issue that had his anger raging. I was also having a bad day but instead of yelling at him for his poor customer service, I couldn't help but wonder WHY he was so upset.

WHY was the gal at the pharmacy teary eyed and pretending to mindlessly shop when it was so clear her mind was elsewhere. The teenage girls practically screaming their issues to the entire store, WHY? I really believe that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. I also believe that the majority of people have no idea that they have grief in their life. They know something is off but to put the word grief on it almost seems over the top to most.

Here are two definitions I use when talking grief:

Grief - the normal and natural reaction to loss.

Grief - the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.

To have a clear definition, can help more accurately place your emotions. Maybe the cashier was going through a divorce and now his future, his normal pattern, has been displaced and he was grieving that in that moment. Maybe one of those girls lost a boyfriend, brother or parent either to death or divorce. And maybe that gal at the pharmacy was just given a terminal diagnosis and her entire life changed in an instant. I don't know the real stories behind the eyes of those people I encountered that day, but I do know I heard heartache in their voices and saw grief in their eyes.

It would have been so easy to make that trip to Target entirely about the situation I was experiencing that week. Yelling at the girls to be quiet, complaining to the manager about customer service because I was at my wits end. Being present and hearing their grief and heartache and being open to the fact that other people have stories, like mine and some far far worse, makes a person have an appreciation for sensitivity, understanding, compassion and concern for others.

Hearing heartache is not simply waiting for someone to come to you in hopes of you being a shoulder to cry on or and ear to listen. Hearing heartache is about being present in the very moment you are in right now and seeing when someone is struggling. Hearing heartache is about not face planting yourself into an altercation because you're thinking "what the heck is that guy's damage" and more about "wow, they must really have something going on in their life". Show some compassion and give some grace. It could be the very thing that your heart needs one day.

You won't always know someones story, but if you hear heartache, it won't matter. As a matter of fact give grace freely and sprinkle it like confetti, the alternative face plant is hardly worth the effort.


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