Lesson learned: When Julie opened the door to her apartment last Friday, the swollen eyes and quivering voice gave it away – she was in pain. Somewhat reluctantly, she asked my associate and me to enter and once inside it became immediately clear why she was so upset. Her apartment was cluttered with many of the large, unopened boxes that the moving company had delivered six weeks ago when she first moved in. The frail and petite woman, who will celebrate her 80th birthday next month, explained that normally she was very organized. But her inability to unpack the boxes and get settled in was causing her great anxiety, to the point that she was skipping dinner and withdrawing from the other residents. Her social worker became alarmed and knew she needed help.
Julie readily accepted the help we offered her and within two days the mover’s boxes had been unpacked, some furniture repositioned, and closets reorganized. A visit to her yesterday was a delightful experience. This time her eyes sparkled (the redness was gone) and she sounded almost giddy as she showed me the progress that had been made. She marveled at how large her apartment now was and how she could finally enjoy the view from her living room window overlooking a beautifully landscaped garden. The pain was gone and she smiled broadly.
We were happy to help an overwhelmed Julie and even more so when we learned that she had become a bereavement counselor thirty some years ago after her husband’s death. She was able to deal with a different type of pain then by providing support and comfort to those who were experiencing the same type of loss she knew all to well. Unknowingly, she reinforced the life lesson we already knew and strengthened our commitment to help those in pain. She is a true example of “practice what you preach”!