What to do with pain

3 min readOct 12, 2022
Photo by Jakub Kriz on Unsplash

I took my daughter to the ER today. The ambulance came and I rode with her to the hospital. I watched as they moved her in a chair towards the stretcher, her head forward, hanging loosely. Her body limp and heavy. I had this thought. This is traumatic. And that moment was suspended over me like an umbrella — my daughter is not okay. I am not okay. And what do I do with that?

I’ve been feeling this heaviness for days now — this impending doom. I was sure I would come home and find her dead. Over the weekend, I had a near panic attack, overwhelmed with the certainty that everything was about to get worse. It’s like butterflies in my ribcage. I’m unsettled. I feel open and raw and wanting. It’s the wanting that’s the worst. I want this all to be over. I want to know that it will be okay. I want to know what to do while it is all not okay. I want and I want and I want.

In that space of want and uncertainty, I tend to look for comfort on the internet. I search for a story that might be similar to mine so I could hold hands with it. I try to find some kind of road map in other people’s experiences. Sometimes I look at horoscopes, though I don’t believe they are true. I just want to know something, so I look everywhere to ease the wanting.

It’s hard to identify what I really need in all this wanting. I am afraid my daughter will die, but I’m also afraid she will live a life of pain and sorrow. I want to take care of her, and I need her to be taken care of by someone who can do it better than I can. Everywhere I look there are hard choices, and none of them are good. I realize now, that really what this is, and what I want, is to part ways with grief. I want to shrug it off my shoulders and be free of it. I’m searching for something that will allow me to set it aside or exchange it for some kind of relief. But I can’t. So it sits there like a lump in my throat that I can’t get rid of. I can’t even cry it away because it is just a part of me now.

I wonder how things would be different if I knew the ending of my story. I imagine this peace settling over me, but I don’t know if that is true. Maybe all I would get from it is impatience — like how I skip to the good parts in movies. Maybe I would just want to skip to the parts where I’m “happy” and miss all the beautiful in between. I realize now, there is a difference…


I am an assistant principal at a small middle school. I care deeply about people and I like to find solutions if I can. Life is hard. Let's be kind