“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”-The Dalai Lama
When we think about what humans need to survive, we often reduce the list to the basic essentials: food, clothing, shelter, and water. Perhaps we can add an income with which to pay for these basics. What gets omitted is interesting: love and compassion.
What does the omission of love and compassion from the list of basic necessities indicate? That human beings don’t judge love and compassion to be important to our survival. Why? Most likely because love and compassion appear as frivolous and superficial emotion needs when weighed against the tangible needs required to sustain life.
The Budapest Early Intervention Project (BEIP), a collaborative project examining the impact of neglect on children’s health and development in Romanian orphanages, found that when love is absent from a child’s life, their bodies will not grow. The study shows how necessary love and affection are to human survival.
We take love and compassion for granted, assuming that everyone gets them from someone, if not us. Thus, we may withhold love or resist giving either. But what if we are the only person willing to extend one or both to another person? We have no idea the depth of love and/or compassion any other person receives in their lives. What is wrong with adding a bit more?
We need love and compassion to sustain our physical development, not just for the development of our emotional intelligence. Post-loss life is a period of starting over, and while grievers receive the basics (especially food), a constant infusion of love and compassion is necessary to rebuild life, survive despite loss, and thrive under new circumstances.
The gift of love and compassion can never be exhausted. Give it early and give it often.