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To speak, or to be silent?

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By Andy CastroLang

I know a young couple who recently lost a child through a miscarriage. It was very sad, even heartbreaking. And yet, I didn’t write a note, or make a call, or stop by their home. I felt awkward and I was silent. Until I heard her crying on retreat, in the room next door.  I paced in my room, and then I went and knocked to see if I could comfort her, somehow.

Somehow, words were needed. I feared not saying the right words, so I retreated into cowardice and said nothing at all.

I was given a second chance to say something, something awkward perhaps, but something from my heart to her heart. I believe this is the better path. Riskier, oh, probably so. But helpful, as only the human heart can be, when it is turned toward another creature in pain.

Don’t wait until you have the right words. Take the risk of speaking a few words in the midst of the pain. I cannot promise you that the words will be gracefully received. They may not be.

But from bitter lonely experience, I do believe that speaking to another in humility and in solidarity is better than silence.

The silence around grief and loss does not help. The chill on my heart at such times, only deepens in the silence of those who are afraid of my grief, my pain. I recalled this when I did at last, break my silence for another in pain.

I submit that our grief and loss are healed by touch, and word, and then, silence. You don’t have to do this because you are a Christian, or a Jew, or a Muslim.

Do this because you are human, and compassion is a part of our common humanity.

Speak. Break the ice of silence. Help another heal.


Andy CastroLang

About Andy CastroLang

Andy CastroLang is senior pastor at Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ. She is deeply committed to civil discourse between individuals and throughout our community; in interreligious conversation, private conversation, intergenerational conversation and yes, even in political conversation. She has been a supporter of SpokaneFaVS since its inception because she supports this creative effort at thoughtful community conversation.

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  1. Thanks for your thoughtful post, Pastor Andy. Perhaps we are compelled to speak rather than be silent because we are human, and speaking is part of being human. I have found it very helpful to be spoken to in the form of a question in such tender moments, for a question can open the path for connecting and sharing.

  2. As a counselor, I have learned again and again that empathetic listening is a far more powerful tool than most people realize.

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