When We Say Nothing at All

The merry month of May, this year coupled with the joy of Easter season, would normally point us toward the celebrations of summer, a time for all the good things in life – vacations, reunions, travel, and relaxation. These things will all still come, of course, but for those touched by the death of a loved one, they are tinged with the sadness of no longer having that special one to share in the joys of the season. It is as though those who grieve are out of synch with the world around them, which continues in its routines oblivious to their sorrow.

“Blessed are those who mourn,” Jesus taught, “for they shall be comforted.” It may not be helpful to learn that Jesus was talking about those who mourn at the realization of the pain they’ve caused with their sins. It is good that, regretting their behavior and seeking to make amends, they will find a God who forgives and the comfort of being accepted back into the fold of those who never wandered from the right path.

What of those who mourn for other reasons – death, the loneliness it leaves in its wake, the change that is forced upon what had been a happy life?

At a loss for what to say, people often mouth the most bone-headed clichés. “He is in a better place.” “There is a reason for everything.” “God needed another angel.” Great. You needed him, too. It doesn’t matter if there IS a reason. THIS was a better place while he was here. The old sayings cause, if that is possible, more pain.

What CAN we do? As Keith Whitley wrote, “You say it best when you say nothing at all.” Just be with the one

in pain. A quick hug – a favorite memory shared. A reminder – “I’m up late and you can call anytime.” “I can’t know how you feel, but if there is anything you think I CAN do, please just ask.” Quiet support is more helpful than explanations that don’t explain anything.

Most of us are going to go ahead with our plans. If we can be sensitive to those whose plans have been shattered, maybe we can offer more than we know. “The touch of your hand means you’ll catch me whenever I fall,” Whitley sang. We offer God’s love best when we say nothing at all.

Rev. Rob