I once didn’t know what to say to someone who was grieving.
Grief, I thought back then, demanded authentic responses. Heartfelt ones, accompanied by tears or in the least, sustained eye contact. And for years, I couldn’t do this. So for years, when someone died to console I’d say something that didn’t feel genuine or at times I would just say nothing at all.
Maybe the better of us can connect in the face of another person’s grief even if that grief is not really felt personally. But I didn’t have that gift…until grief happened to me.
A good friend and fellow blogger once told me something profound about grief. She said “loss is so universal, and yet it always feels so singular.” When my dad died, I remember feeling like I was the first one to have experienced that kind of grief. Surely, that’s why it felt so hard.
But then after some tears in my own pity party, I’d think about the millions who die every day. In wars. In car accidents. At birth. In their beds. Death happens all the time. And it’s felt all the time by those left behind. I understand this now.
In the past weeks, several friends of mine have lost someone who was close to them. Each time, including my own time within the past month when my grandmother passed away, I thought about writing something on here. But I didn’t because I didn’t want to turn my personal “a-ha” moments into anything more than just that. My personal “a-ha” moments.
Where there is great love there is great grief. Yes. I believe in this. But as I was writing this, this morning I thought about all the ways that this isn’t always true. Sometimes within great grief there is great regret. Great regret of love unrealized. It’s a gift to know that you love someone when they’re alive. It’s a gift to know this and live from that place. It’s a gift to love. And, perhaps, thinking more about it, it’s a gift to grieve even if you don’t really know if it’s love or regret that defines why you are crying.
I’ve experienced both.
I once didn’t have the right words. But now I do. When someone is grieving, just say what comes to your heart. Say, “I am sorry for your loss.” Or “how can I help?” Or “you will be in my prayers.” Whatever you do, just say something because the person who is grieving remembers these kinds of things and more than how you say it, they care that you said something at all.
Love, Jessica ❤︎