The Others Who Grieve

The road we will all walk eventually.

The road home.

A friend passed away yesterday.

This was not a close friend, but someone that I liked and thought well of and who had always been good to me. Nor was this death unexpected: it came at the end of a committed struggle against cancer, but it was still too soon to be appropriate. Maybe it never would’ve felt appropriate: not for someone with four young kids and one of them a new baby and not for someone with such a good wife and not for someone still so young.

I followed the struggle from a distance. We learned of the diagnosis via Facebook and we learned of the death via Facebook. I sent a care package once, right after we found out about the diagnosis, but then didn’t know if it would be intrusive to send anything else. Even though we were far away and even though this was someone that I didn’t know well I was still anxious to help. Maybe too anxious. I believe it is a hard-wired human response to try to help someone who is struggling because it makes us feel better. Sometimes “helping” just gets in the way of what needs to be done. I didn’t want to make things worse so I mostly kept out of it.

I still thought a lot about what was going on. I even prayed. I don’t pray much, but I was prepared to make the exception.

Now I am sitting at my desk and I need to write a condolence card for his wife.

I don’t know what to write.

I’ve written condolence cards before so I have words that I know are appropriate; I just don’t know if they are meaningful. How do you speak to someone who is hurting? How do you say “I feel this loss” and still acknowledge that their loss is greater? How do you share your grief without adding to theirs? How do you offer comfort without dismissing their pain? How do you acknowledge that someone made a difference to you even though it was in a small way and even though you now live far away when a much bigger, closer loss hangs over the person that you are sending it to?

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 28, 2013.

One Response to “The Others Who Grieve”

  1. Sorry to hear that a friend has died. There seems to be a lot of that this week. I think your words almost don’t make a difference at a time like this. But the action of sending a card will be long remembered for its intent to show caring and concern. A wise person once told me that people don’t remember what you say but they remember how you made them feel. Sending a card or package says “I thought enough about you today to take time to send you something.” Actions speak SO much louder than words. I think you have quite a lovely way with words, by the way. So go ahead. Send a card with your thoughts. The message will come through loud and clear.

    Love you!



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