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September 22, 2012 / Ronald Chapman

Unattended Sorrow

There is an extraordinary book written by Stephen Levine entitled Unattended Sorrow. It recounts how every injury, every failing, and every disappointment hardens our hearts and inexorably damages the quality of our lives.

The last post gives us a glimpse into the ripple effects of such unattended sorrow and how they affect Aaron, the boyfriend of a woman the serial killer murdered. “She may be all I think about,” he tells Pitcairn. Then in response to an inquiry about his well being, Aaron says starkly, “I’m not okay. I’m not sure I’ll ever be okay.”

While this is an extreme example of trauma, there are countless minor traumas in our lives. The dog that is killed by a car. The times you are told you are stupid, or fat, or that you have fallen short. The relationships that break down and end, even if amicably.

When unattended, these events callous our hearts and undermine compassion.

Of course, Levine has a solution in his book, a process for attending to our sorrows. Yet until we come to understand the high price we pay, we cannot muster the means to heal.


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