Being present while someone is grieving

This is my challenge this week. A young friend is grieving one of those unexpected, brutally unfair deaths.  I know that such deaths make us all feel inadequate and that there is always huge guilt, and I want to say to this young friend: you will survive this feeling of guilt. You will survive this feeling that you didn't say the right things, didn't do the right things, didn't pay attention to the right things. You will have this huge, gaping wound inside of you and you will make it through to tomorrow, and the next day.

There are no words to say these things.  The words I wrote above will connect with you because we are not talking about you. They will connect because you can see from a distance that such things might be true, especially of someone else.  They will not connect with my friend because my friend is living them. And words are slippery things when they are trying to connect with the core of your life.

So I will say I love you and I love you and I love you. And breathe.  You can take one breath and then another.  Just breathe.

That will not be enough. But it will connect. At the crucial moments, we connect through touch and breath and the sounds of a voice that hurts with us. It is not enough. It is just enough to move us through to the next story, the next laughter, the next moment of pushing the awful thing to one side. So that we can all take a breath. And another. So that we can move, not away from grief but inside it.

Words may help. But not now. The best words can do is become seeds, planted deep to push through the surface another day.


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