WHAT DO I SAY?
By: Christina Levasheff, Judson’s Mom
One of the things that can actually keep us from reaching out to someone facing a crisis of pain is that we don’t know what to say or how to engage them. Words seem to fail us. And the truth is, they do—words fail. So what do we say?
On one hand we don’t need to say anything. I’m reminded of an old song by Charlie Peacock:
Now is the time for tears
Save your words
There’s nothing you could say
To take this pain away
Don’t try so hard
You can just simply be
Cry with me don’t try to fix me friend
That’s how you’ll comfort me
When someone’s life has been torn apart, they don’t need your words; there is nothing you can say that can change their circumstances or make things better—nothing! They merely need your love.
The people who’ve touched us most in our pain are the ones who’ve said very little, expressing how sorry they are for our circumstances, but speaking volumes with their presence and tears of solidarity. They’re the ones who’ve made themselves available when we’ve needed them, with no agenda of their own, creating the space for listening, understanding, and hurting with us.
On the other hand, we need to say something. Don’t ignore someone’s pain and pretend it doesn’t exist, or act as though nothing has happened. This can create more pain and isolation for the wounded. I encountered numerous sad and almost bizarre experiences where people skirted the one issue that mattered most to me, my son’s suffering and death. Don’t avoid the issue. Genuinely and sensitively acknowledge a person’s heartache or sorrow. It doesn’t suddenly remind them of their pain, the pain is always there, but it does remind them that you care.