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‘I wish they hadn’t suffered’: The point of their pain (yup it has a point).


If you are haunted by bad memories about pain that your person who died was in and you wish it could have been different …..then this blog is for you.

This is a conversation I find myself having quite a lot…so I thought it was time to write about it.

Memories of the pain they were in can sometimes be one of the worst things after someone you love has died: the pain they went through, whether it was short-term or long-term physical pain, inability to look after themselves, weakness, vulnerability.  This stuff can be tough to remember…and tough to forget.

So let’s look at this a different way (because if you’ve followed me a while you’ll know there is always a different way).

The thing is that we only wish away and are haunted by pain that we see as pointless.  And with pain leading up to a death we usually see no point in it at all.

This whole wishing-they-hadn’t-been-in-pain stuff……it isn’t universal.  If we do see a point to pain we feel totally different about it.  Does that sentence make no sense to you whatsoever?  Okay…let’s step away from death for a minute…and think about childbirth.  Now I haven’t been through this myself…but I have been led to believe, by my many friends who have (and my mum), that it can be less than physically pleasant.   Yes I know that is a ridiculous euphemism.  I’m told that it can be, and often is, the most physically painful experience of a mother’s life.

BUT when was the last time someone you love told you they were pregnant and you gasped and apologised to them for what they would soon be going through?  When was the last time you visited someone you love with a newborn and your eyes filled with tears as you held the baby – a reminder of the physical agony your friend/family member recently went through, and wondered how you could ever get those awful images out of your mind?

Nope, of course you haven’t…because you see the point of that pain and it pales to insignificance when compared to what it brings.  When we see the point of pain we are ok with it.  Yes a friend or family member may go through whatever childbirth may entail and we may feel for them…but ultimately we see that as a part of the process of having a baby and, more often that not, we are filled with congratulations and joy over their situation.

So if you are thinking now “well that make sense for birth….but not death” then read on….

Just like the way that the pain of birth delivers something …so too does the pain around death.

Pain draws others closer.

Pain deepens relationships.

Pain creates space for important conversations.

The right type of pain i.e. serious suffering, can bring people back together.

Pain attracts the type of care and attention they might need.

Pain makes it clear to them and those around them what is happening and can allow them (and you) to prepare.

Pain allows them to be vulnerable in a way they may have never experienced before…which can seem absolutely yuck…but this is often the time people get the chance to have the things about them they have hidden their whole lives (often things like weakness and  vulnerability) shown to the world. Again this can sound yuck but this is when they get to learn that even with their worst bits out on show they are still loved.  Perhaps loved even more.  And that is a beautiful lesson to learn.

Pain can knock out everything unimportant and frivolous that we busy ourselves with…and focus us in on what really matters.

Pain can teach people to listen to, trust, and care for their bodies.

Pain can bring the support and care that someone may be reluctant or resistant to ask for or allow.


Would you really take any/all of that away from them?

When you see enough point to the pain (and if you can’t that’s only because you haven’t yet seen it, not because it isn’t there) you feel very differently about it.

Explore the pain around their death.  Ask yourself what it gave them, how it helped them, what gifts came from their pain. Answer this enough times and you will feel a shift in how it looks and feels to you. And if you are still thinking “nope, no point to this” and haven’t even looked – your belief that there shouldn’t or couldn’t be any good to it will likely be blocking you.  Know this: when you see meaning in their pain it changes the way you feel about their death and their experience leading up to their death.  This changes how you feel when you think about them, it changes how easily you are able to remember them, and it changes their legacy…because you being haunted by memories of them and wishing to forget these memories of them is part of their legacy.

So explore this….both for you and for them.

And if you are now thinking “yes I see a point now….but I still wish they hadn’t been through that and they didn’t want to go through that” then consider this: if I had the power (I don’t of course but work with me here) to help you pick your death now, what would you choose? Here are your three options:

1.  You will have a painless death. You’ll go to sleep and never wake-up and not suffer one little bit.

2.  You will suffer moderate pain.  This will give you an awareness of what is happening and that ‘your time is near’.  It will give you a chance to have some important conversations and to spend a bit more time with those you love.

3. You will go through excruciating pain.  And this pain will bring you to the basics of what is really important to you – you’ll have no time or energy for all the other fluff. Some of your relationships will be opened and deepened in ways they never have been before.  Damaged relationships may be mended in this time and you may even bring your loved ones together in a way that you couldn’t achieve any other way.  Your pain may force you to share the parts of you with the world that you have been hiding out of fear that you will not be loved…and you will get to learn how truly loved you are. And a condition of choosing this option is that you won’t remember picking it when it happens and will likely wish the pain away.

Which would you choose?  Because I know which I would.  Some physical pain would be a small price to pay for all it could bring.

All pain has a point…it is only a matter of finding it.


As always I love hearing from you so feel free to comment below with your thoughts or email me directly if you prefer –

With much love,



P.S.  If you are struggling, and need a little bit of help and support right now…then I have designed this gentle little course  just for you.


{ 1 comment }

Leo October 5, 2013 at 11:40 am

Hey Kristie

I agree in principle,with one proviso – if we develop our relationships while we are healthy and not in pain, and live from the consciousness of this present moment most of our lives, the need for pain as a teacher falls away.

In my experience pain is a great teacher when we engage in a conscious relationship with it. But all teachers eventually drop away. We do not remain in primary school forever but go on to teachers who can offer us more.

So it is with pain. I’ve found that when I choose to grow consciously, a new teacher appears who teaches with gentle kindness. No pain is necessary now, although my gratitude for the lessons pain taught me will always be.

So for me, I’m happy to die peacefully in my sleep! 🙂

love and blessings,