I've ached from a far for loved ones lost: my aunt almost two years ago, an older cousin defeated by cancer who left her young 16 year old behind, and my grandfather many years ago. The ache was different each time and somehow greater for others. I remember my mother's pain when she lost her sister. I remember how she threw herself across her bed to cry uncontrollably after hearing of her father's passing. I didn't know how to help her. I so badly wanted to take away her pain. I wanted to erase it from her memory and somehow heal her heart. If only I could have spared her this ache. Wishful thinking, I know.
To date, I have been spared from the deepest most aching losses. I've never lost a parent or a sibling. Or worse, suffered the loss of a child or spouse. But for those that have, all I can do is pray deeply for their healing. I wonder what more can be said and I wonder what more can be done?
Just the other night, I said "I am so sorry!" to a friend from high school who lost her only brother two days prior. In such modern times, the news of his passing spread across social media. Instantly so many from this family's circle knew of their ache even if they didn't experience it firsthand. The outpouring of love on social media (and otherwise) was far-stretching. Yet, a family is left longing for the moment just before the outpour. My friend longs for her brother's voice and his vibrant smile.
In these moments of loss it is almost impossible to know how to comfort such aching hearts. Those left to mourn are in a pair of "shoes" that require bravery and hope. They carry a little anger and so much confusion. Those shoes are tattered by the long walks of numbing tears and the deep desire that this is all a sick, sick dream.
I prepared a warm meal, offered to run errands and took my friend's daughter out for a fun afternoon. I offered support that comes in the form of service accompanied by simply saying, "I am so sorry." In the end, there's really nothing else to say. I decided to be in service and not say anything else. I didn't ask how he passed. I didn't say I understood, because I don't.
However one day I too will walk in those dreaded "shoes". Such is life. I will wear them and I will hate them. I will receive apologies from those who can't really understand (and from those that do). And while I pray for that moment to escape for at least a century, I offered what I could to a family left reeling from loss, I said I am sorry and did the only other thing that ever comes to mind... tell those I love JUST how much I do, today and everyday!
What have you found helpful or how have you expressed comfort when dealing with death and loss?
Your input allows us to learn from each other and be better for one another in moments of loss...