Everybody Hurts — Existential Pain of the Human Condition

When your day is long And the night, the night is yours alone — R.E.M.


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“Everybody Hurts” is a powerful ballad written by R.E.M. and released in 1992. The song speaks to the existential pain that is inherent in the human condition and highlights the shared struggle of all individuals. The lyrics are poignant and relatable, tapping into the universal experience of feeling overwhelmed and lost at times.

Existential pain is a deep and abiding sense of discomfort that arises from the realization that life is uncertain, unpredictable and often times beyond our control. It is a feeling that can be difficult to articulate and is often described as a sense of emptiness or meaninglessness. For many people, existential pain can be a source of great distress and can lead to feelings of hopelessness and depression.

The human condition is characterized by a constant search for meaning and purpose. Despite our best efforts, however, life is often unpredictable and can be marked by tragedy, loss, and suffering. “Everybody Hurts” speaks to this reality, reminding us that no one is immune to the hardships of life.

The chorus of the song repeats the line “Hold on, everybody hurts,” emphasizing the message that we are all in this together and that there is comfort in the shared experience of pain. There is a strength in acknowledging our vulnerabilities and seeking support from others. This is a message that is especially important in today’s world, where mental health issues are often stigmatized and people are often reluctant to seek help. The lyrics offer hope, reminding us that even though we may feel alone in our suffering, we are never truly alone.

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Anthony Bourdain once said, “As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”



Donna L Roberts, PhD (Psych Pstuff)

Writer and university professor researching the human condition, generational studies, human and animal rights, and the intersection of art and psychology