Why It's Good to Be Sick

Last week I had a fever and severe coughing, and it made me reflect on how much I take my health for granted. 

I have several friends with chronic illnesses who spend their entire lives accompanied by intermittent pain and discomfort.  But these friends don’t wallow in their suffering – they use it to connect with other people who are also sick or struggling. 

In this way, sickness builds empathy.  Being healthy is a position of privilege. 

Some people lack the resources or education to feed their family nutritious food.  Some people have genetic conditions or are born with genes that make them predisposed to illnesses.  Some people make decisions that put them at risk for illnesses. 

Being sick reminds us of our mortality.  We only have a short time on this earth, but we can ease the pain and suffering of more people on this planet while we’re here.

Even though I was sick with fever and hadn’t slept the night before, I still worked on the worst day of my illness.  I don’t say that to brag (plenty of people work while sick), but to emphasize that my desire to help people burns hotter than my fever. 

Whatever suffering you experience in your life, I hope that you can use it to relate to others who have experienced something similar.  Empathy is about recognizing ourselves in another person.  It’s about imagining ourselves experiencing what they’re going through and acting out of compassion towards them. 

So while I don’t enjoy being sick, I’m thankful for the opportunity to reflect on the struggles that so many people face on a daily basis.  If we can give them a moment of patience, kindness, or love, it could make a world of difference.  After all, if we were in their shoes, wouldn’t we want someone to do the same for us? 

Posted on January 15, 2015 .