I listened to a lecture where the speaker read from his ancestor’s journal. She had walked across the United States during the mid eighteen hundreds to escape persecution. It was midwinter and the family had reached Wyoming. Snow, ice, sand, and wind bit at their torn and ragged clothes as they tried to make the last few miles to camp.
The narrator, the wife and mother, recorded how her husband, weak from starvation, fell in the river and had to be dragged to the other side by a man on horseback. They were able to get him to camp, where they covered him with a thin blanket and tried to feed him some ground wheat and water. He was too weak to swallow. The wife lay beside him in her clothes and listened to hear her husband breathing. Around midnight, after falling asleep, she reached out and found him cold and stiff, dead from starvation and exposure. She said there was nothing they could do but lay “beside his corpse and pray for dawn.” The next day some men laid her husband in his blanket with thirteen others who had passed that night on the cold ground and covered them with snow. The ground was too frozen to dig graves. They then continued their journey, losing fathers, mothers, and children along the way, mourning, but making steady progress toward their destination.
The speaker paused and said after he read this entry that he would never complain again, that he did not understand suffering and had no right to complain. He said, “In life pain is mandatory but suffering is optional.”
To complain fuels suffering. Acknowledge the pain but choose to not suffer. Do not complain. It is a corpse. Instead bury it, pray for dawn, and move on. Life is ahead not behind.