In tough situations we often find ourselves unable to come up with the right words to say. That inability makes handling the circumstances even tougher. Here’s the good news: sometimes nothing needs to be said.
Just showing up and offering to listen or hug those hurting in the situation can be the most perfect proclamation. A simple squeeze of the hand or a covered dish for supper can sound like the kindest statements. Handing someone a tissue or taking over childcare duties is a true testament to your support and understanding for the suffering they are enduring. Sometimes we just don’t have the words, but we do always have the ability to make things happen and ease pain of the circumstances.
When my grandfather died, I was unable to attend the funeral because I had just endured a major surgery. My aunt came and sat with me the day of his funeral and said nothing. She simply hugged me, made lunch, did the dishes, and took care of the laundry. She knew I didn’t could speak of my grief yet and understood that sometimes it isn’t the words that make us feel better.
Sometimes we just don’t have the words.
Last night I attended the visitation of a man I had never met. I attended because two of his daughters (Mary Kay and Tina) are friends of mine. As I approached the front of the line, I wondered (as most do): what can I say that will help?
The only thing I knew to do was introduce myself, give my condolences, and share the joy their friendship has brought to my life. Shaking her mother Chris’ hand, my friend Mary Kay put her’s on top of mine and smiled. I said to Chris, “I am a friend of your daughters’. I knew Mary Kay first, and now I work with and am friends with Tina.” Mary Kay and I then proceeded to tell how we became friends and that I was married to one of her husband’s distant cousins. In that brief time Chris learned a lot about me and I offered as much warmth and compassion as I could. After hugging Mary Kay, I had the pleasure of giving a big ol’ hug to Tina and meeting Laurie (their other sister). Before I left they all had smiled and shared something of our friendship with their family (There was even a contest of which sister was my favorite).
I don’t know if anything I said was helpful, but I hope that the appreciation I showed for their roles in my life reflected as an appreciation for the life their father lived. Sometimes it isn’t in the words we say; it’s in the way we say them.
If you know someone who is struggling or has just lost a loved one, consider not what you can say but what you can do or how you can listen for ways that will aid in their healing. We don’t always have to know the right thing to say. Sometimes we just don’t have the words because words are not what is needed.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Rarely am I without words.
In loving memory of Bernard “Ben” Fick
(APRIL 27, 1931 ~ JUNE 2, 2018)