Someone asked me in an e-mail why I would paint somebody else’s sorrow. And trying to think about it didn’t really bring a satisfying answer right away.

But when I was painting, an answer formed in my mind. You see, I’ve always been sort of a magnet for people’s stories. I’m not sure what it is about me, but somehow many people feel they can confide in me instantly. Maybe it is because I feel for them. Maybe it is because I feel the world should be more open to real feelings instead of all that tooth-paste so-called wonderfulness we seem to be fussing about. Maybe it is because I like to make real contact with people instead of the superficial “hello, how you’re doing, I’m fine and you?” It doesn’t really matter why it happens, but I get to hear a lot.

And as I listen to their stories and feel for them, two things happen. Their emotions rub off on me a bit. Of course never as deeply as they are feeling it. But nonetheless, I take home the emotions. And secondly, I feel I want to help them. But life has taught me that I can do no more than listen. Be there. Allow them to release the emotions and the stress that comes with it. Be that one person who allows them to show their dark side, to see them whole.

I don’t mean to sound holy here, by no means! But seriously, it is incredible how lonely people are when they are going through emotional times. And straight after a disaster or a loss anyone understands. But after a while, everybody assumes they’ve picked up their lives again. And they usually have, but the sadness and pain is still burning inside of them. These people are so strong, living life with this massive pain inside.

I admire them. And I think that’s why I am painting “Loss” right now. To show my respect to the people who are dealing with loss in their lives. In this case, to people who’ve lost a child. And I’m painting this for the world, to help us remember we might be having somebody close to us who needs to release the pain every now and then. Be acknowldged. Who need to know we see and respect them whole, with their pain.

Many people are scared to see other people’s pain. But you know something? Even after listening to the most gruesome or dramatic experiences, often a talk ends with smiles, hugs and sometimes even laughter and merriness. That is how important listening is. That is what you can do for somebody else. And that’s a lot.