“What could I possibly say? There is nothing I can say to make this better.”
One of my best friends texted me, explaining that his stepdad had passed away that morning-a victim of cancer and ultimately heart failure. I was getting out of the car at school, preparing to go watch an independent film at the art center for extra credit, when I received this text. It hit me like I had just stood up too fast and smacked my head against the rim of the car door.
“What do I even say?!”
It is the question of every person who has stood on the other side of grief, looking at someone trapped inside. There are cards, cliches, brownies, flowers, greeting cards, songs all crafted for speechless moments like these. But in the same way that love is unpredictable and every relationship is different, so grief is personable and solo. Will there be tears? Stoic silence? Will there be anger or fear or agony? Will this grief lock itself away or cry into the shoulders of its closest friends?
We never know. And that not-knowing can leave us speechless.
I am learning that being speechless is okay. It is okay not to have a script or a five-step plan to help the person push through the walls of grief. It is okay to be vulnerable about my inability to know how to provide comfort. It is okay to not bring a card. It is okay to sit in a dark room and watch someone play video games until they are ready to talk about what happened. It is okay to just listen, to ask questions, and not to speak.
It is okay if I cannot fix you, save you, wipe your tears all away.
That is not my place. It is God’s place; it is the place of the person who is grieving. On these solo battles we learn that there are some things we must face alone, but we also learn how to find comfort in those around us and in God.
We learn what it means in 2 Corinthians 12:9a when God says“’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”
We learn how to grieve without letting death drag us under; we learn how to tread water while gasping for air; we learn how to let someone else throw us a life preserver and pull us to shore when we are about to drown. And because of this….
It is okay that I am speechless.
It is okay that I cannot fix you.
It is okay that I am just me.
It is okay that I am just here.