The Load

Depression can be one of the most destructive and horrible things in our lives. The pain from the loss of a job, marriage, relationship, home, or of a parent or a child can seem more than one person can ever withstand. We see people going through it. You want to help, but sometimes lack the words. As human beings most of us would take the hurt away if we could. It’s painful to watch.  You can remember the times when they were happy, and that’s all you want for them; just to smile once more.

They tell me that everyone deals with pain in their own way. I hear that a lot lately. For the last month and a half I’ve had all sorts of people come up to me and tell me that they wish they could take the pain from my family. I know that they are sincere, that even though they do not fully understand the burden, I think mostly the gesture is genuine. I can’t tell you what it is like for most people; I can only share what it is like for me. Forty-six days ago if you told me that one of my friends had lost their son, and you asked if could I comfort them, I would have told you that I wouldn’t have known what to say to them. I would have told you that anything that would come from me would never be enough; that there was nothing that I could do.

I would have been wrong.

I can tell you now what it is like, in the hopes that you can care for someone who is hurting. I do not compare my feelings to others who are lost in depression. The pain is all real, no matter what the cause.  For me it feels like I have this great load that I am forced to drag through the desert. Every step is painful. It seems more than I can bear, yet I still go on.

Each time someone would call or leave a message, checking on me, it would feel as though they helped me along the way, that they pulled on this load, even for a little bit, and that helped. Sometimes people would tell me of their own pain that they carry, and they would walk with me, each of us carrying our own load, and I would know that I am not alone.

The worst part  is when people would show up in groups and try to take my load from me. It is my pain; I must bear it. Sometimes it is all I have. Sometimes the load would be too much, and I would have to sit and rest. Others who were dragging their pain would rest with me. There is a strange camaraderie with those who are carrying these loads of pain. It does not matter what caused the pain; the fact that you can see them sometimes years after, still moving on, still putting one foot in front of the other — this is what helped me the most.

Sometimes there are no words that can help. This is when it is the most important. Human beings need support. Sometimes a simple hand placed upon the shoulder means more than you could ever imagine.  It is okay to let them grieve. They have earned that right. Stay with them and help them along the way. It is a long and lonely road, and we could use the company

Dan Adams
Dan Adams has been a licensed plumbing contractor for nearly 30 years. He owns and operates Edgewood Plumbing  in Redding with his wife, Holly. In 2000 he and Holly moved to Redding from the Bay Area in search of a better place to raise their sons.
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9 Responses

  1. Avatar Debbie Davis says:

    Lately I have found myself in a “locked state” about what to say and do for a friend who lost everything in the Carr Fire. She’s withdrawn and doesn’t respond to text messages. I don’t understand what to do with silence. Your article gave me a nudge to “check-in” again with a card and a plate of goodies. Thank you for a good reminder that everyone handles grief differently. I shouldn’t go silent. Everyone needs a “hello hug” to know there is support and love to comfort their pain.

  2. Avatar Darcie Gore says:

    Thank you Dan for helping all of Us during Your grief. I don’t have the words – don’t even know you, but felt the need to say you are not alone, you have the entire ANC peeps right there with you. I hope you can feel the love and support.

  3. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Darcie said it best: we are all with you. Please consider all these messages that hand on the shoulder you wrote about; better yet, a bear hug. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Avatar Janet Stortz says:

    Thank you for sharing.

  5. Dan,

    Thank you. We huddle together on this journey often not knowing if our thoughts and token gestures are worthy. But your expression encourages better performance and faith in being human.

  6. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    What a powerful article Dan. You described this horror so well. You and your family are in my heart.

  7. Avatar Rick Zeller says:

    Dan, thank you for taking time to remind us to reach out and be there for others, even when we have no words and don’t know what to do for them. Your message and your personal story are compelling.

  8. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    I think, Dan, that you plumb the depths of human emotion as well as you plumb buildings.

    So many of your personal community would like to help, but mostly we are clumsy and inept when we would like to clear and astute. We find ourselves tongue-tied and inarticulate when we would like to have access to the perfect word or touch. In this piece of writing, you give some insight to the rest of the world on how to begin to help with the heavy load of pain . . . even if for only a few inches.

    Thank you for stepping out in exposure and bravery in order to educate you community.

  9. Dearest Dan,

    You words are already gaining traction, and giving us a blueprint for how to show care and comfort, when we have no words.

    I’ve already heard people quote your message about the power of a hand on a shoulder. Thank you for taking the time, even as you still grieve your Kyle, to share your story. Thanks to you we’ll know better, and that will help us do better.