Tag: comfort

It’s Harder Than I Thought It Would Be


When it was time to re-start my volunteer efforts with hospice, I decided it was premature to be exposed to patients and their families. So, I asked my supervisor if she had other work I could do in the meantime; I still wanted to make a contribution, even if I wouldn’t be visiting patients. She suggested I could make bereavement calls to those who had lost members of their families. It seemed like a great idea.

Only it’s harder than I thought it would be.

People have a hard enough time speaking about death in almost any context, but discussing the recent loss of a loved one can be downright painful. Of course, people can choose not to talk with me. I just want to speak with them for a few minutes to see how they are doing. (We especially want to learn if anyone is indicating they are suicidal.) We only ask a handful of questions; the rest of our interview form asks us to document actions they are taking (or not taking) to deal with their loss and begin to move forward in their lives. And we end the call asking if they would like to speak to a bereavement counselor.

Member Post


Some of you may be experiencing a load of frustration with all the confusion, challenges, attacks on our freedom, and foolish decision-making which abound during this time of Covid-19. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big believer in trying to help others amidst the chaos, helping those who are suffering by sending positive […]

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Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?


“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.