Tuesday, 7 January 2020

The importance of hugs

is not to be underestimated. 
I put something about this up in another location yesterday but I want to say it again here.
I had to do some essential shopping yesterday. In the shopping centre I saw someone I know and we gave each other a  brief hug. As we did so I heard a very quiet voice behind me ask,
    "Can I have a hug too."
The voice belonged to a complete stranger, a woman of about my own age. She was looking very, very stressed. If I believed in things like auras then this woman would probably have had one which was fiery red with black patches. 
Now I do not go around hugging people I don't know but this woman had asked and I sensed she needed a hug. Someone needed to give her a hug. So - I hugged her. I held her more tightly than I would have any other stranger and she clung to me. She was shaking slightly. 
When she loosened her grip I let go and looked at her and asked, "Is there something else I can do?"
She shook her head and burst into tears. I could guess why because there was that faint, smoky smell around her even though her clothes were clean. 
She and her husband had lost everything in the fires we have here. All she wanted right then was a hug from a stranger, to have someone else who cared enough to give her one. 
I like to think I have some ability to imagine things but I am finding it very, very hard to comprehend "losing everything". What does it really mean?
This woman has not "lost everything" of course. She still has her family but right now she must feel so numb and confused. It was absolutely clear that she wasn't functioning properly. People don't normally ask complete strangers for a hug when they are simply going about their daily business.
My job is about disasters, about people in need, often about helping people who have lost everything - sometimes even their families. I thought I knew something about this. There have been times when stories and situations have kept me awake long after I should have been exhausted. It happens even though I try to distance myself enough to function properly and actually do something to help. But,  yesterday I was faced with the reality. I knew all over again why it is that people who have experienced such horrendous things cannot function normally. I have told people over and over again that people sometimes cannot help themselves even when they have the physical capacity to do it. They don't have the capacity to make the decisions, to plan and more. Their minds won't let them move and do things. 
They need help - and sometimes they need the smallest of things like a hug.


Momkatz said...

I am glad you were there to give that poor woman a hug, Cat. I can't begin to imagine leaving your home and coming back to a blackened hole in the ground. I am praying constantly and I have sent donations to charities that are helping humans and animals. The world is crying with the Australians.
Big Sister Cat

Judy B said...

I am also glad you were the one to be asked for that hug.