The Healing Power of a Hug


I’ve spent a fair amount of time in a hospital waiting room over the last week, concerned as a cherished family member recovers from surgery to replace a stenotic aortic valve. It’s been a frustratingly slow recovery with its share of setbacks. But in the process I have learned some important things about family.

I married into a large Italian family. Large. Italian. La Famiglia. There have been times this week when I have wondered if the hospital would be adding a new wing just to accommodate the members of the Calvagna family. They may have to.

Truly when the waiting becomes unbearable, and you are surrounded by family, someone tells a joke or remembers a story from the past. And suddenly the unbearable becomes bearable again.

Or someone new comes to visit and the hugs start. There is something powerful about a hug. You get energy; you give energy. Sometimes the tears start, sometimes the laughter starts. Giving a hug infuses you with energy. Getting a hug infuses you with warmth. There is something truly healing for the weary soul in the simple act of a hug. Something that should not be underestimated.

On the days when my daughter and I have kept the home fires burning here in Milton while my husband has been in the hospital waiting room, my daughter has greeted her Daddy on his evening arrival by running into his arms with complete abandon and joy to give him a “humongous” hug. And the way my husband’s eyes light up, almost to the point of tears in response is thrilling to watch.

Every family in that waiting room is worried about a loved one, and we have in our mutual worry, met some amazing and wonderful people in the waiting room, and we have exchanged hugs with those people as we learn their stories, share pizza with them, and participate in the waiting room chair shuffle. My daughter has done the best job of sharing hugs with the others, freely asking them what their names are, sharing her cheese popcorn and drawing them pictures. And more than once, I have seen a “stranger’s” weary eyes tear up at her freely given hugs.

So, while this has been a hard week, one which I’m sure no one in la famiglia would want to repeat, I have learned a lot. I know that I am part of a wonderfully loving, large family. I know that I have an incredible little girl who knows how to share that love freely. And, I have relearned the healing power of the hug.

So, hugs. Have you given and received your recommended daily allowance today?

© 2011 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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