I can vividly remember receiving a phone call in the middle of the night from a family friend requesting our presence at the hospital, after the passing of a loved one. We jumped up, put on our clothes, and off to the hospital we went. Upon entering the waiting room, my heart sank as I saw the family in tears, especially the kids. As I reached out to hug the daughter, I recall saying to her “it’s going to be alright!” She immediately started yelling it’s not going to be alright (repeatedly). My heart sank even more, and I felt so bad knowing that my words were true, but my timing was horrible.
She was right, at that moment it was not alright with her. She had the right to feel exactly how she was feeling. Who was I to tell her that she was going to be ok, I’ve never loss my dad before. In my mind, I knew that it was going to be alright, but I did not consider her feelings because I was so focused on my spiritual beliefs.
The next day she called and asked could she come over, and as I met her at the door she was crying. I opened the door, lead her to the sofa, and just held her in my arms, for hours as she cried. No words were ever exchanged. When she finished, she said thank you and left. I told her at that moment that she was always welcome, whenever she needed me. I learned a valuable lesson that day, sometimes silence is best.
The day of her father’s funeral, she asked could she ride with us instead of the family car, we obliged. She rode in the front seat, in mostly silence with brief moments of conversation of her choosing.
What I have learned over the years is that even though our intentions may be pure in thought and the words spoken are truthful, sometimes silence is best. Send your condolences, do what you are going to do in the form of acts of kindness, say a prayer for their strength, comfort and peace during this difficult time. Periodically, check in with them after the funeral when things have settled to see how they are doing, send words of encouragement, or just let them know that you are thinking about them.
The initial shock of losing a loved one can be detrimental. Even though we are Christians, we must also remember that we are human. We all have emotions and sometimes our emotions take control, and you just don’t want to hear anything, because you are in a place of pain. At that time, we must step back, assess the situation, observe, and move accordingly.
Grieving is a process; it comes in waves. Being physically present does not always mean that one must speak or have an opinion. Everyone grieves differently, because their relationship with their loved one may be different than what your relationship with your loved one may have been. I truly believe that in due time, God will give them the coping mechanisms to adjust to life in the absence of their loved one. Until then, let’s learn to love and support them where they are in this journey, knowing sometimes silence is best.