When words fail


Recently, good friends lost their son. This news brought everything to a screeching halt. All those things, once so important weren’t anymore. This is familiar. The struggle of wanting to do something and knowing there is nothing.

The funeral was Friday. Thankfully, my husband and daughter came along to show their support for our dear friends. Walking in the door and facing them, this broken family, left me feeling inadequate. What do you say to someone whose life has shattered?

We hugged them, cried with them and the only words escaping my lips were “I’m so sorry” and “I am praying for you”. The door to the outside world called my name. Thoughts of leaving the pain behind tugged at my soul. This wasn’t about me or my comfort. This was about being there for someone even though there are no words and no way to take away their pain.

Is this what the Bible means when it says bear one another’s burdens? Galatians 6:2ESV “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Throughout the week, the little voice in my head told me to stay away. It said, “They didn’t want me there. I was useless. Why even try? I would hurt them by being there.”

I remember times when I listened to that little voice. Times I stayed away because it seemed the most helpful thing to do. God showed me I was wrong. It was selfish. I was protecting myself not helping others.

When we walked in and saw their faces, it became apparent they wanted us there. They needed us there. Our mere presence was a comfort. It isn’t about us; it’s about God’s command to love one another. Love is uncomfortable and messy. Love is being there regardless of our feelings.

This quote from Nicolas Sparks, The Notebook sums it up.

“In times of grief and sorrow I will hold you and rock you and take your grief and make it my own. When you cry I cry and when you hurt I hurt. And together we will try to hold back the floods to tears and despair and make it through the potholed street of life”

We love one another by being there when it’s uncomfortable, when we don’t have words and when we know we can’t do anything.

God shows up in our weakness. When we humbly obey because we know it’s what we should do. God uses us best when we realize we have and are nothing.

What’s next?

Continue to pray and don’t forget about them. They may drop out, but we stay connected while respecting their boundaries. Remind them to ask for help and then ask God and those closest to them how we can help. Earnestly look for ways to be there for them without being overbearing.

We do this, not to make ourselves feel good, but because we love them.

We do this to let them know they are not forgotten.

We stand in the gap for them in prayer until they are able to do this for themselves.

This is what we do when words fail.

Please share ways you have been there to help loved ones cope with great loss. Please share ways others were there for you in times of great loss.


4 thoughts on “When words fail

  1. Wow Tammy, I actually wrote something very similar that won’t go live for another month or so. It was in response to the actions of others in the month since we had to put our dog down, which I wrote about at http://www.jmlalonde.com/the-toughest-decision-ive-had-to-make/.

    I’ve found that when words fail, it’s time your actions start to speak. Be close to people, hold them close, and listen to them. These are the actions of other people that has helped us get this far after our loss.

    • Thanks Joseph. I have dealt with that type of loss being a pet sitter and animal lover. Sometimes losing an animal is more difficult, because many don’t understand or take your grief seriously.
      Thanks for your input.

      Hugs to you!

  2. Tammy,
    Thanks for posting this. It was right on. One thing I have found is that people in grief do NOT ask for help. Saying to them, “Let me know if you need anything,” though it sounds good does not yield good results. A person is grief is struggling to just stay afloat. I like your other suggestion which was to find out from close members of the family or friends what is needed. To call up and say, I was wondering if you needed help with ________ is more likely to get a response. A griever sometimes wonders how they are even going to make it to the next day. They do not have the capacity to think through even what needs to be done. That’s probably why people drop off food. So at least, the person in grief will eat.

    So glad you went past the little voice in your head and listened instead to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Sorry to hear about your friend’s loss. It’s very sad.

    • Thanks Anne for your kind words and thoughts. I’ve always been frustrated by the food thing, but it is important to take care of ourselves when we are grieving. It’s nice to have others help with some of the mundane things that get lost in the sea of grief.

      Yes, listening to the Holy Spirit is always best.

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