Recently I attended a funeral of someone with close connections to our family. His life came to an end after several years of treatments, followed by months of steadily declining health and eventually his last days in a hospice surrounded by family, friends and supportive staff.
During the eulogy, one daughter shared how their father in his later years had changed from a physically and emotionally reserved man to one who gave “the best bear hugs”. It awed and inspired me to hear how this family had used their time so wisely following the initial diagnosis to resolve and heal many old hurts and misunderstandings. They attained a deeper level of connection and acceptance and intentionally created more loving interactions with each other.
What particularly touched me at this funeral service was the strong sense of belonging to a community. I was among a large gathering of people who all cared deeply for this man’s family. As the family walked into the sanctuary I could feel our powerful communal embrace enveloping them. Clearly, this community was united in supporting each of them in bearing their pain and loss. It was a beautiful and sacred moment.
Later I reflected on what a gift it really is to belong to a community that embraces and supports you as you move through life’s ups and downs. Those of us who are connected to communities (of whatever kind), have probably experienced something similar. I contemplated how isolating and lonely it would be to not have the love and support of others when you need it most. This too is something that some of us have experienced – when we have felt let down by our community.
How or why does this happen? Perhaps the answers are as varied as we are but I suspect that some of it has to do with how much time and effort we put into creating and nurturing community around us. Community can be equated to a bank account – if you never put anything in, there is nothing to draw from either when you need it.
It can be easy at times to put our communities (intentional/chosen or inherited) “on the back burner” when we are busy, distracted or experiencing various stresses in our individual lives. We get caught up in these immediacies, perhaps at the expense of spending time within our communities. I am not advocating for putting the needs of everyone else ahead of your own – I too have witnessed and experienced the consequences of such self-denial – but I am suggesting we evaluate how we balance our own needs alongside those of our chosen communities.
As a society, we place great value and acceptance on satisfying our own needs and desires. Perhaps this is inevitable because of the speed at which we move through life – forever chasing that shiny ball of wealth and self-interest. But I would like to believe that there is still a place for and desire to connect with others – whether it is with those we share commonalities (ie. location, ethnicity, religion, profession, a common interest, lifestyle, etc.) or with those about who we know little.
Being connected to others outside ourselves helps to satisfy our innate need to belong. One definition of belong that I like is to “fit in, be suited to, have a rightful place, have a home.” Isn’t that what we all want more than anything else?
To what communities do you belong? Do they add value to your life? Do you add value to the community? Who is with you through life’s ups and downs, your joys and sorrows?
If you need help finding the right balance in your life or evaluating which communities add value to your life, book an appointment with Shirley Lynn today. You deserve to feel and know where you belong.
Submitted by Lucy Martin