August 19, 2022
by Brian Jeansonne
An excerpt from a chapter I'm currently working on entitled, On Suffering:
Suffering is a humbling experience. Suffering often makes you reliant on others. And suffering has the potential to transform you into the most amazing version of yourself. Again, your choice. And I get it. At first you feel you don’t have a choice. It’s as if life has ripped you in half and has stolen everything from you, even your ability to choose...
People often compare their suffering to mine and so they will tell me of some of their suffering and then they say, “then I think about you and I’m like, my problems aren’t anywhere near what you’re going through.” That bums me out. Why would someone feel they need to compare and in doing so dismiss their suffering? Suffering is suffering. It’s where you are. And yes, I would win 9 out of 10 times, as it seems that ALS has a reputation around health care providers and doctors a plenty, that ALS is the cruelest of all diseases. But it is not a competition. Do not dismiss your suffering. Unless you’re suffering is first class was full, so you had to fly coach. I have six friends/ acquaintances who have lost loved ones since my diagnosis. Four lost children ages 9, 17, and 31 and a newborn at birth. One lost her husband and father of four children under 13. One lost her mother.
I make no claims to know their pain. How could I? And they don’t pretend to know mine. If we get a chance to sit together, we hold hands and look into one another’s eyes and we’re quiet. Because we speak the same language of broken heartedness and loss. And we know there is no fix to the pain, and we look to each other for solidarity, for companionship, for safe space and for love. We don’t need words because honestly there are no words that ease the pain. We acknowledge one another’s pain, and together we allow the presence of the other to validate our brokenness and we know in this moment that we are seen.
No one asks for suffering and pain and yet no one is exempt. So, when life knocks on your door and delivers an uninvited tragedy, as the weeks and months pass, and you finally catch your breath again, know that you are not alone. Realize that this is going to either derail your whole life or it’s going to transform you into a better version of yourself. And then day after day, put one foot in front of the other and make the intentional decision to allow your suffering to shape and form you for the better. Don’t waste your sorrows. And give yourself plenty of grace and sit with sadness whenever she visits. She is here to stay, so be kind to her, honor her and have a cup of coffee with her when needed.