Listen to silence. It has so much to say. Rumi
More and more, I am silenced by loss. Finding it harder and harder to know what to say. Grasping for words that heal, comfort or soothe and coming up empty. Acknowledging that there is no repairing the damage, fixing the loneliness, touching up the despair. The suffering is too deep and too wide. To speak is to offer simple solutions that don’t come close to suturing the wound.
I have spent much of my life fighting to be heard, only to discover during these pandemic days that I sometimes have little to say. Or more accurately, nothing worth saying. But the less I speak, the more I hear and the more I remember. Without the worry of making a wise, witty comment, I can drop fully into the conversation and focus instead on listening. To what’s being said and more importantly, to what’s not. To hear the muffled sob, see the head drop or shoulders shake, to feel the anguish radiating outward. To hold the pain in my hands, create space for the departed to be present and acknowledge all that has been lost.
Sometimes silence is the best answer. Sometimes silence is the only answer. Sometimes there are no words necessary, and sometimes there just are no words. Sometimes listening is the only way to honor a devastating loss that words would only diminish.
The stillness has room to hold the grief. As I sit with another shattered soul, I remind myself: this is not mine to fix. I am here to bear witness, hold space, companion a grieving heart. To breathe in the sorrow and exhale prayers for healing. To silently communicate to the other person .. you are not alone. I may not be able to make this right. But I will not turn away. There is more to your life than this pain, this moment, this loss. But until you are ready to walk back into the light, I will sit here quietly with you.
I think back to when Jimmy died. The cards, the emails, the texts. How little I remember about what people said and how well I remember the way they showed up, leaned in, grabbed onto me. Their presence said “we are here, we have you and we are not going anywhere.” It wasn’t their words; it was the love and intent behind them. Their courage to sit in silence when there was nothing more to say.
I am learning to pause, draw breath and wait. To see what appears instead of filling the void. To remain curious about what isn’t being said. To wait patiently for the words to come. To understand that my silence can be a gift, perhaps the most powerful way to honor another person’s pain. To search for the peace and the possibility. To follow instead of lead. To witness the pain, wait for the wisdom and walk silently into the unknown.
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