The Scene in 'The Giver' That Relates to Life With a Chronic Illness


Have you ever wondered what would be the best way for someone to understand the pain and fatigue that comes from a chronic health condition?

After I saw “The Giver,” I had my answer.

For anyone who’s seen that movie, I’m talking about the part when the “Receiver” meets the “Giver” and he shares memories with him for the first time. He grabs hold of his arms and the memories just sort of transfer from Giver to Receiver. But it’s not just the memories that he feels… it’s much more than that. He experiences every sensation that goes along with the memory. After the transfer is complete, he’s overwhelmed. It’s something so new, so unfamiliar, that at first it’s almost too difficult to understand. Words alone would have never been enough to describe what he experienced. He had to feel it, see it, smell it, touch it, live it.

Sometimes, I wish I had that power – to grab hold of someone for just a moment and transfer the pain and fatigue I feel to them so they can truly understand what I mean when I say “I’m tired” or “I’m hurting.” So much meaning gets lost in such overused words and phrases that often time people may simply dismiss your pain and fatigue because they don’t think it’s that bad. But, if they experienced first-hand the pain that comes from a pinched nerve in my lower back and the sensation that my bones are about to snap in half, maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss my pain.

Maybe if they felt the burning in my knees from climbing up the stairs every day, they’d shut their mouth instead of saying, “You’re too young for your knees to hurt.” And maybe if they experienced the sadness, anger and frustration that comes from my limitations, they’d think of something nice to say or do for me instead of just ignoring me or waiting for me to ask for help. It’s like that old saying goes, “Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes.”

Unfortunately, “The Giver” is just a movie and I don’t have the gift of memory transfer. But that scene always makes me think about the one quality we all need to practice more: empathy. All it takes is a moment for us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and think about what they must go through.

So the next time someone tells you they’re tired or hurting or just having a rough day, reach out your hand. You might not be able to feel their pain but you can certainly make them feel your kindness.

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Photo courtesy of The Giver Film Facebook page

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