Monday, January 7, 2013


Words.  Words.  Words.

I remember when my friend, Shannon, was driving me home from the hospital that night... She said,  Ummm... So, I've never done this before...  I looked at her and said, Neither have I!

Grief has been a big learning curve, to say the least.  Our society does not welcome death as a part of its culture. It does not teach us how to grieve, individually or in community with one another. Grief ends up feeling awkward, outside of our comfort zone, beyond the realm of what is familiar...

It is difficult for loved ones who don't know what to say or how to say it, what to do or when to do it, especially when I don't know either... I have touched on this before. It is an undeniable part of this process for everyone.

A very sweet couple, Harold and Rowena Boone, parents to some of my closest friends, passed along a book called, Letter to a Grieving Heart, by Billy Sprague. The first chapter is entitled, Beyond Words. 

He writes:
I am so sorry you have to face life with this kind of wound.  I don't have any answers or magic words.  In fact I would rather sit or walk with you for a silent hour than fill your ears with words that ring hollow and fall so short of real comfort.  I would rather do your dishes. Or restock your refrigerator.  Or write out the checks to pay your bills, answer your phone, or take care of other mundane details.  I would rather listen to you tell me all the things you love about the person you are missing so much.  Or light a fire in your fireplace and make you something warm to drink. Or read the Psalms to you.  Or bring you a pot of homemade soup.  I would rather sleep on the floor by your bed so when you wake up in agony, someone is there...  No one can talk away the pain.  Grief drains most words of their power anyway...

I cannot read this paragraph without my eyes filling with tears.  All of his words ring true for me.  I wish I had been better prepared for grief... I wish I had been better able to verbalize what I needed when I needed it, for the sake of my relationships.  I hope that sharing this offers comfort and revelation to someone else in grief, and understanding to others who long to express their love and care but don't know how...

Words are empty in the face of catastrophic loss.  Only the Holy Spirit can infuse a word with hope and power and life in the presence of devastating grief.  A grieving mind and heart is bubbling and boiling inside, creating pressure, a need to release, a heart desperate to be shared... heard.  When someone is speaking to me, I still struggle most of the time to concentrate long enough to hear what is being said.  I want to hear... but my mind is so weighed down, exhausted, saturated with pain, that I cannot understand what is being said to me.

As time continues to pass, as I try to keep up with society and act "normal", my heart is brimming with tears that are anxious to overflow with all of the memories, thoughts, and feelings I have about my beloved husband and his death...  I am discovering that I need someone to listen... 

I have many friends with whom I can do what I just mentioned...  I hope this post is an encouragement to others who grieve and need to know that it is okay to share your heart and talk about the person you love, and to others who want to know how to be there, how to offer comfort, how to show you care...  Listen.  Listen with your heart.  And be willing to grieve.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. Everyone grieves differently, and yet there are so many established patterns for grief that I expect my grief to follow the pattern my sibling's grief has followed. My brothers and sister can't understand some of my needs to relive my brother's moments before his death. I have found real comfort in talking about it and having friends and other family members listen. Somehow it makes the reality more real. I have trouble reconciling James' actions with the brother I know. Talking it through helps so much. No one can say anything to make it better. There is no better. But there is happiness and fulfillment in the future. Just because there is no better, doesn't mean that there is no hope.