I never seem to have the right words in the face of hardship. I do believe, however, that even if you don’t have the words, by saying something you are reaching out and connecting with someone else. Even if that something is just: I’m so sorry. So very sorry.
My mom is a Labor and Delivery RN and she would come home from her night shifts sometimes and hug us oh so tightly. She’d sigh as her arms finally let us go. When I was a little older I realized that those were the mornings that dawned after nights where they’d lost a baby, or even a mom, at the hospital. My mom hugged her babies after nights spent comforting people that had lost theirs. It was she who taught me about people withdrawing when they see someone grieving and that she never wanted me to be that way. Even if you don’t know what to say, she’d tell me, call them. Write to them. Offer your time and a sympathetic ear.
Though I try to be there for people, I am certain I don’t always succeed. I am not without those that think poorly of me and aren’t afraid to tell me as much – I don’t want this post to sound like someone reading isn’t already being there for people in need. I think what I’m getting at is that I don’t feel right without acknowledging that even though on the internet things move at light speed – one moment we’re sharing in shock as current events unfold and the next we’re back to swapping recipes or stories of our days – it is never business as usual. Also, there is no expiration date on grief, so reaching out to someone weeks or months or years after something that shook their world can also provide comfort and support.
There is enough sadness in the world without the addition of willful, destructive acts (or, as T.H. White put it in The Once and Future King – “Life is too bitter already, without territories and wars and noble feuds.”). All we can do is to keep loving as much as we can and hope for better tomorrows.