Wanted: Huggers, I think
A few months ago, I posted this as a Facebook status:
“I took a late lunch break to go to the dentist. I spent all morning obsessing about how the hygienist is going to ask me if I’ve been flossing every day. As I was leaving work, I passed a lady on the first floor of the hospital. She was waiting for an elevator while pacing, sobbing and putting her hand on her heart. I’m sure she was there because she had just received world shattering news. My heart broke for her. Put my silly floss aversion in perspective.”
A couple of my Facebook friends told similar stories, and one wrote that she wished she could’ve given the woman a hug.
This got me thinking, so I responded with, “Maybe I should’ve given her a hug. I definitely thought about it. It all happened so fast. I’ve noticed most people who work in a hospital walk really quickly. In addition to gaining perspective, this was a good reminder for me to SLOW DOWN and actually SEE people.”
I still work on the same hospital campus, and almost every day, I pass someone in the hallway or in the cafeteria who looks like he or she could use a hug.
Now, hospitals use volunteers for all kinds of important jobs. Just a few examples could be running the cash register at the pharmacy, sitting with patients who have no family members close by, playing board games with siblings of pediatric patients and giving “kangaroo care” to the littlest fighters in the NICU. These compassionate individuals who volunteer add an essential, personal touch to the prescribed, often scientific, medical care patients need.
As I walk the halls, though, I have to wonder if there is a need for volunteers who just walk around and SEE PEOPLE and hug them. That’s all. Just hugs.
Of course, my over-analyzing, second-guessing self argues, “But, April, there are people who don’t like to be touched by strangers or simply don’t like hugs.” Yes, I suppose many folks would be uncomfortable.
But maybe there are more people who are aching inside, feeling completely alone in a waiting room full of others, because they just received news that has completely flipped their world upside down. They wouldn’t think to ask for a hug, but if they received one, it could be just what they needed. It could let them know that they are being seen. Maybe it is worth it to just go for the hug and risk being pushed away?
The huggers would have to be quiet, discerning people who are brave enough to go for the hug, yet kind enough to smile and walk away if it is not wanted. Brave and kind and hugs – I think the world needs more of them.
I’m not sure I fit the hugger description, but, as I finish this post, it appears that the reason I wrote it is because I needed to convince myself to get out of my own way and hug a stranger. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? Brave and kind. No one said it was easy.