There has been a great deal of melancholia lately among people I know, many deeply cared for. The young and newly single mother, wondering if she’ll ever find genuine love for the first time let alone again. Another young woman whose joyous anticipation along with her husband of their first child together has now turned to grief as the baby has passed away while still in her womb. The depression monster eating people alive, stealing whatever joy they might have while leaving them numb and indifferent to life’s pleasures. Yours truly, watching his employer turn out the lights, searching for and wondering who will be his next employer if in fact there will be one. To put it simply, not a ton of recent fun.
It’s challenging, knowing what and what not to say when people are hurting. The challenge exponentially rises when you are the one in pain, ofttimes leaving you unwilling to talk about things at the exact time you most need to communicate concerning that which seeks your slow destruction. John Donne was right; no man is an island. However, it is not only the final death of one affecting us all. It is the little births and deaths among those we know, joys and sorrows we share out of love bringing us together as we help each other through the bloody cold mud that life so often churns for us to stumble through.
We laugh with those who laugh, comfort those who mourn, and grieve with those who grieve. Sometimes all we can offer is our presence, as any words we might have to offer sound too trite, too cliched to say aloud. Yet these times of being there are often far more valuable than anything we might have uttered. In a world demanding all communication and contact be at its convenience, with phone calls abhorred and texts answered at leisure, making oneself available for another is a sadly revolutionary notion. There is surprising healing in presence; well, surprising to those caught up in a world of omnipresent communication but minimal contact.
Yes, sometimes we don’t know what to say. This doesn’t leave us incapable of reaching out. A hug, a hand on the shoulder, a reassuring smile; these speak volumes. What matters is the love behind the effort. None of us always have the right words. But we can do the right thing. Even when we wish we know what to say.