I am so incredibly fortunate, just so very lucky. Up to this point in my life, while I’ve lost some I’ve loved – my mother and baby brother among them, I have not lost a child. And that is a misfortune I cannot fathom bearing. An old friend of mine lost her 19-year-old son last night to suicide. And her heart is broken.
This is my third friend in the space of a year to lose a child and each time that same ol’ line most of us feel “I can’t imagine” runs through my brain. I have hovered somewhere between sympathy for the irreplaceable loss my friends have suffered, and gratitude that my own children are both safe and just a phone call away. And each time I have felt tremendous shame at that – and not just at noting my fortune in my friends’ misfortune. Even in considering this, was I turning their pain into a narrative about me? How entirely inappropriate.
Further, words can be trite when attempting to comfort another for a type of loss that is inconceivable to me. And even suggesting that I’m sending love and peace to those affected by this kind of pain can be as meaningless as the ol’ “thoughts and prayers” trope.
So, through meditation, I’ve worked to balance mere words with what it is I’m really feeling, in a prayer of sorts. Yeah, I get this method some see as new-age, or spiritual, or woo-woo – all tokens I’ll own up to, I suppose. Hell, I’ve been called worse.
Call it what you wish, but for my part, in addition to the positive words and branded phrases, I focus on feeling: love, peace, strength – while holding an image in my heart/head of the person who is hurting. And then? Rather than saying sorry, instead of saying “I can’t imagine”, before allowing pity to seep in…I will offer them my love. I will offer them my support. I will offer them my shoulder to cry upon, my open ears to hear their shattered thoughts, and my naked soul to wrap around their wounded heart.
Love, peace, strength. Yes, these are mere words. But I want you – you know who you are – to know that if I am offering them to you, they do not disipate once I speak them, they become stronger. They become a mantra called out in reverence to you and your lost loved one. They become meaningful and powerful and actionable. <3
Always with love,