Lately, people around me have died. Some I didn’t know personally. I know people who loved each of them and needed to express my sympathy.
Except I couldn’t find the words.
I pride myself on having The Words for every situation. I have a great vocabulary. I read a lot. I am a writer, for God’s sake! But I cannot properly put into words the sorrow I feel for the death of someone.
It just doesn’t seem like enough. I should be able to do better. I should be able to give some comfort during this hard time. I should have the words…
I just can’t begin to put into writing the things I feel. My empathy steps in and I am overwhelmed by the amount of pain each and every person surviving a death will feel. Parents feel a different kind of pain than a spouse does. Children feel a different kind of pain than a sibling does. The pain I imagine they are feeling eclipses any attempt I have at expressing sympathy.
I do not want to sound pithy or wise. It was for the best. It was their time. God has a plan. I do not assume I can speak for God or the universe in any matter. I am not religious enough to give genuine comfort in that way.
What I do know is that after the wake, the funeral, the funeral meal, we get to go home and breathe a sigh of relief that it is not us. But it could be. Death can happen to any of us. At any time. Still, it’s a distant thing. Something we will deal with Some Day.
But these people are dealing with it right now. They don’t get to breathe a sigh of relief. Once the masses are said and the meals are shared, they have to go on with their lives. Those are the words of comfort I want to give them. I want them to know that I don’t forget. I will think of you and your loved one for a long time to come. I will pray for you and them in the only way I know how. I will ask God to hold them close. I will ask God to watch over you and all the close survivors.
I understand the tears and the agony don’t stop once all the people go home and continue with their lives. I understand that you have been devastated. You need to learn to re-live your life. You need to work around the hole that has been left by the death of your loved one. While your friends and family move on instantly, you are left with baby steps. Because the very foundation of your life has been changed.
I want to be able to sum that all up in a few words. Maybe that’s a foolish thing to do. Because that pain cannot be summed up easily.
I wish I had the words.
I am sorry.