Does Suffering Shock You?

Yesterday, I read this article titled, “Does Suffering Shock You?”

In it, the author says, “If we are repulsed by suffering, we will try to eliminate it at all costs, including eliminating the person who suffers.”

While most medical professionals are thoroughly acquainted with human suffering, it may still be that it is regarded (at least sometimes) as repulsive. 

There is an anecdote about a passerby who, upon observing Mother Teresa caring for a dying man in the slums of Calcutta said to her, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.”

Mother Teresa answered that she wouldn’t either. 

It was a love that enabled her to enter into the situation of the suffering person that enabled her to transcend the repulsion. 

As the author of the aforementioned article puts it, “Co-suffering is the way we love the one who suffers.”

In society-at-large, there is a lot of repulsion toward weaknesses and vulnerability. Yet, many of the best stories we know are examples of refusing to be shocked by suffering and of a willingness to enter into the messiness and grit of life. 

Medical professionals might seem unlikely to be “shocked” by suffering, but perhaps the shock concerns all that which cannot be solved with treatment, intervention, and medications. Maybe the shock is that science has limits, that we have limits. 

This October, we are pleased to share that Dr. Kristin Collier will be our keynote speaker. Dr. Collier is an assistant professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Michigan where she serves as the director of the University of Michigan Medical School Program on Health, Spirituality and Religion. She was also a faculty member for our inaugural Bioethics Symposium. Now, you too can have a chance to hear her speak by registering for our fall conference. 


Find out more and register for our annual conference here.


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