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Thursday, June 11, 2015

June 11, 2015: Extending an empty hand

     Someone I care for and have the greatest respect for has suffered the loss of his father, and I just don't know what to say. We tend to repeat the same trite, well-intentioned phrases that we've heard all of our lives that just sound so hollow even as we express them.
     "Is there anything I can do?" What would that be? Can I in any way help another person grieve for the lost one? How would I do that? Church members often bring casseroles to the family, and I suppose that it relieves the family members of the task of cooking at a time when it is so terribly hard to self motivate oneself to even think about doing so. I know when mom died, the very last thing I thought about was my next meal. My mind was trying to figure out how I was going to continue in life without the one person in it who knew me backwards and forwards and understood me so completely that she could predict with the greatest accuracy exactly what I would do in just about any situation.
     We try to say that we understand how the person feels, but no one can really fully understand how another person experiences loss and the emptiness within when a loved one is absent. I tend to be strong during those times and seem to control my emotional responses very well, but behind the scenes, when all is said and done and I am back in my regular routines, I break down privately and find myself unable to function for a while. Taking a few sick days a couple of weeks after the passing of a close family member or friend is not unusual for me, but often causes others to think me odd.
     All of the things we try to say are weak attempts to express our love and affection for the friend in the face of his loss. Truthfully, though, there is nothing we can do to help someone in their time of loss. There is a story of a man who was sitting on his porch crying one day over the way things were going in his life. A young boy saw him and went over and sat down next to him. Not saying a word, he gently rested his hand on the man's arm and sat there with him for a good portion of the afternoon. When he came back home, his mother asked him what he was doing. The little boy looked up at his mom and said, "I was just helping him cry."
     Sometimes, all we really need is someone to help us cry. No words necessary, just the heart of one soul reaching out to the heart of another. Anything else would never be enough to do any good anyway.
    To my friend, we love you and our hearts go out to you.

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