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When There Are No Words

Sometimes there are no words.

            No words to say to a wife whose husband drank his morning coffee and took his last breath a few hours later.  No words to a friend who didn’t expect a diagnosis of cancer.

            No words to encourage someone who continues to be in pain after surgery.  No words to comfort the parents of a teenager who collapsed and unexpectedly passed away.

            No words to express distress and grief for the people of Ukraine.

            One early morning last week I sat with pen and journal in hand and thought, ‘There are no words.’ Yet, I wrote names and hardships and grief, and I shared with a few college girlfriends who live miles away. They responded.  They, too, have friends and family members who suffer and my friends also hurt for the Ukrainian people.

            What can we do?

            I was taken back to a day many years ago when I visited my Aunt Doris and Uncle Hugh who were then only a few years older than I am now.  We talked about what we’d done during the past week.  Aunt Doris and Uncle Hugh had been to funerals and she had taken food to the families of those who had passed away, as well as taken a meal to a sick friend.  I said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” 

            I have never forgotten Aunt Doris’s words. “It’s okay.  It’s where we are.”   I’m sure I frowned and I know Aunt Doris explained, “It’s where we are in life and it’s okay.”   She talked about the fun that she and Uncle Hugh had enjoyed with friends: playing competitive Rook card games, celebrating a new year, taking weekend trips.  Aunt Doris and Uncle Hugh laughed as they reminisced about happy times with a friend whose funeral they had attended a few days earlier.  And through their conversation, I took in their happiness of times past that made accepting sadness easier.

            Last week I reminded myself that even though I don’t like what’s happening, I know life cycles. Calm. Jubilation. Sadness. Anger. Celebration. Grief.  Happiness.  And through those times people walk beside each other.

            Being raised in a small rural southern town, where everyone knew everyone’s business, I watched my parents and my extended family take care of each other and their friends.  They showed up.  They took food.  They hugged.  They listened. They prayed.

            I know that pain, distress, grief, and heartache are part of life, and I can follow my family’s examples.  Sit beside someone in emotional or physical pain.  A pot of homemade vegetable soup or a take-out meal speaks more than words said.  When I put my arms around the parents who mourned their teenager, there were no words.  Nothing to say.             

There’s hope that a touch and a hug speak love and caring.  There’s hope that showing up and listening show sympathy and concern.  There’s hope that prayers are heard, even unspoken prayers.


4 Responses

  1. Clinging to hope and remembering this is where we are now-powerful. Thank you.


  2. This is all so true


  3. As life moves along and we are fortunate enough to be apart of it…. I have called changes in our personal lives the new normal…not our
    choice but we are making the best of it. And Hugs are a necessity!


  4. Dang-it , you made me cry again Susan. Mom would have been as proud of you as she was of Aunt Ann


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