“How are you really doing?” I dared to ask the question, uncertain if I even wanted to hear the answer.
“All want is to have him back, here with me..” She whispered quietly one night on a long, dark car ride back home.
My heart lurches some place unknown and unfamiliar. What to say?
Sorry he really wont be coming back or it's going to be okay or the bible promised... or I understand how you feel, when really I don't even know the first thing about loss.
Because I have no idea what it means to lose a father, to have someone you love dearly die.
At this, words elude me and I have no idea what I can offer. And I have come to believe that it is in these moments, where there is really nothing to be said. Words can do marvelous things but in some situations, there isn’t a word or a neatly constructed sentence in the world that can lessen the pain, change the situation or make it any better. It is in these moments when it seems that there is no perfect way to be- that there is no right way of orchestrating my words or actions. And so in the midst of the not-knowing and the pain that lingers so tangibly you feel you could reach out and touch it with your finger tips, right there- you just are.
You wade through the silence beside your friend. Maybe you take their hand and hold it firmly, or place a gentle hand on their shoulder, a simple gesture just so they know you are there and aren’t going anywhere. Or other times, you just sit or stand with them and you don’t leave. You stay firmly planted beside them as they try to make sense of the grief.
Moments like these, you just are.
Grief is a strange thing. It is a heavy cloud that looms over, changing from day to day, even moment to moment. Some days she is right with me laughing and talking in the same old familiar way we have, and other days I can see how the grief lingers heavy. Her eyes tell me more than her words; they crinkle with hurt and hold all the unanswered questions. But how to navigate the cloud of grief? She asks, maybe not in so many words, but she wonders about how to mourn or feel or how much to try to move on. And I don’t know anymore than she does, probably even less.
C.S Lewis writes in A Grief Observed:
“Aren’t all these notes the senseless writings of a man who won’t accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?”
The only way to navigate that cloud of grief is through. All one can do is keep walking, keep on voyaging forward. Through the confusion, through the pain, through the sorrow, through the deep emotion. Eventually one will arrive at a place where the sky is a little more clear, a little brighter. Where things will make a bit more sense, or at least, there will be an acceptance of the not understanding.
Then, in those times- when words have lost their power and frankly, you have no idea what you could possibly do to help the cloud of grief disappear- just be. Because I think that is best you can do when life throws you those awful yet oddly precious moments; where you have the opportunity to stand beside those who have come face to face with the toughest of what life has to offer.