Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Not being alone, really alone

…A psychiatrist named Marc E Agronin, MD, had a little piece in the NYT on Dec 23, 2008--

…It may seem kinda grim for the holidays—Nazi atrocities not being the normal fare.

…But it isn’t really about that. Agronin treats many survivors of the Holocaust and always wonders how did anyone stand it, then start to live again, then go forward and finally become old?

…Agronin said how could his medicine touch these memories, much less help? So he ended up being the one learning.

…His first lesson was to recognize the deep sadness in these people. It cannot be healed, only shared. The faces may dim in memory, but the sadness stays.

…Lesson 2 was that being through one set of horrors does not inoculate against another. One patient said the indignities of the nursing home were worse than the concentration camp.

…He asked—how does one stand these things and go on? One woman said she knew women in the camp. No matter what happened, she was with them, not alone. “We were desperate, but never alone,” is how she put it.

…”Faith,” said one. “Hope,” said another.

…HA cannot match these experiences, for which she is thankful. But she has learned all we have is the present moment. Then the next present moment. We can get through a moment. Or maybe even celebrate one.

…Merry Christmas and whatever holiday you celebrate. Moment by moment.

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