Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Please hold their hand." Notes of a women whose boyfriend had lost his life in the New Zealand earthquake

How should we talk to those who are in the depth of sorrow following the death of their loved ones in Great Eastern Japan Earthquake?
"Please don't say 'Gambatte' (a Japanese word which means 'Work hard,' 'Do your best,' or 'Good Luck') to those affected. All I ask you to do is to hold their hand."  A 25-year-old nurse of Kanazawa City (Ishikawa Pref.) whose 27-year-old boyfriend, Haruki Hyakuman (Tsubata-machi, Ishikawa Pref.), had died in the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand in February 2011, wrote notes reflecting on her emotions while she has been coping with her loss.
Do not say "Gambatte."
I was in Japan and could not eat right after the New Zealand earthquake. I just could not eat when I thought my boyfriend remained trapped under rubble.  And it is very painful to think that there are many people are now experiencing what I had gone through.
Although my boyfriend is gone, I have my family, friends, and other people who support me.  They supported me in their desperate endeavor to protect me.  Some cried together with me, some hugged me, some listened to me without saying anything, and others said something funny to make me laugh while carrying their cross.
I believe there are people who had lost their family, friends, shelter from the rain, and everything they had.  Some people might have lost their will to live.  I have been there.  At such times, the words like "Gambatte" ("Work hard") and "Gambaro" ("Let's work hard") sound so demanding that they could put a strain on those suffering from their loss.  Everyone is working so hard to live their life to the fullest.
So do not say "Gambatte."  They must move on and live their life even when their loved ones are missing or die. By living without their loved ones, they are already working so hard.
But they should be able to breathe a little easier when somebody only touches their hand.  That would make them realize that they are not alone.  Please hold their hand or put your hand on their back if they are crying and quietly wait for them to speak.  They always will air out their feeling somehow, which would make them feel better.
I think they naturally should be able to 'work hard' to live when they understand there is a number of people who want to help them. When I lost my boyfriend, I came to think I was not alone.  And nobody said to me "Gambatte."
The fact that many people were supporting me made me feel I would try to work hard to live my life.
My fellow and senior nurses and doctors from the hospital where I work had headed for the affected areas to support disaster victims.  Everyone is willing to help those affected.  We want to save as many lives as possible.  We do not want anyone to feel pain and sorrow like me.  That is how we are feeling now.  

translation of the article by Sankei Shimbun, March 21, 2011

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