Pain and grieving—how storytelling is helping me through it (Will).

Welcome to a little story about the next outstanding person I met on my walk earlier this week. I was on a quest to connect with others who might share their thoughts on pain and grieving. Fresh on the heels of losing our precious Yellow Lab Travis, I knew it would help for me to utilize one of my most effective tools when emotions are tough: my camera.

My walk around the UT Austin campus led me to my second encounter.

Meet Will.

Will is a musician and creative artist. He was a raised in a Christian home, and his dad is a minister and counselor. He is currently homeless, but has a steady job doing computer repair work and is saving up for shelter.

I told Will about the pain and grieving I am going through, and as I did, I had that familiar self-judgement inside. “Who am I to express these feelings when I’m in front of someone who is suffering so?”, I said internally.

But there was no judgement in front of me.

Will told me about a Bible verse in the book of Lamentations where it refers to God being near to the open-hearted. “That’s why it is important to not shut out the pain”, Will said. “Embracing the suffering means you’re gonna be closer to the one you were to be following anyway.”

“Pain makes a man reliant upon God”, he continued. “Some pain you can simply handle on your own, but with unbearable pain you can’t. That’s where that Savior comes in.”

Will reminded me that through the grieving process, “acceptance” is that last step. But, he added that in his experience, there is a final “moving on” stage.

“Pain is inevitable like death and taxes unless you totally numb yourself. I used to do that but in the end it didn’t work.”

Will’s parting thought was interesting: “Pain isn’t complex. It’s such a simple concept to understand because it is a universal experience.” He said he felt my pain the moment I told him that I had lost my old friend Travis.

When I left I said “bless you, buddy.” His reply? “I am already so blessed.”

Joe Van Wyk
Austin, Texas

#yourstorymatters #street portraits #visual storytelling #mindfulness #streetphotography #homeless #joevanwyk