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.
- Viewpoints: Thanksgiving Traditions - November 29, 2017
- “Prayer is my communion” - November 25, 2017
- Showing up for our young people - September 27, 2017
- Generosity and compassion appear at the most unexpected moments - May 24, 2017
- To speak, or to be silent? - April 27, 2017
- Organizing: Turning fear into anger, despair into courage - February 1, 2017
- Eco theologian to speak tomorrow at Westminster about earth, need for change - October 31, 2016
- Bullying in politics - September 27, 2016
- I dare not be silent - August 12, 2016
- Tired, but still standing in ministry - April 8, 2016