Phantom Pain



“Sometimes it still hurts.

It’s a thing, you know”

This is what a guy I’ll call Joe said to me after I asked how he lost his foot. Joe lingers in the area where I work. Sometimes I share water or gloves or a few bucks. He told me “it wasn’t war” (even though he was a veteran).
He tells me he got sick.
After, he got sicker.
And even now it sometimes still hurts.
He spoke those words as if it still bewildered him that he could feel pain in a missing limb. They call it “phantom pain”. It really IS a thing.
So I’m wondering if there are words for the other unimaginable losses that rip at the tender parts. What are the words for what lives in the void after a senseless shooting ? Or the loss of a child ? Do we name the feelings we have when someone disappears into the darkness of dementia or mental illness ? And what about the deep sense of loss over the things we will never ‘have’ to lose ?
Pain and loss can be invisible. I suppose that’s the best argument there is for simply being kind. We are all having a different experience of this same life. I hope I remember Joe next time I’m impatient or thoughtless.
I’m going to try to think of something beautiful ♡