“Just heard some terribly sad news….” I pride myself on being a good communicator and yet when I hear this, I find myself at a loss for words. When friends and family and colleagues and neighbours are dealing with loss, I do not know what to say. I find myself wanting to hide from their pain. As if it will not touch me if I don’t engage. I know this to be untrue. My world. Is their world. They are my world. So why do I find it so difficult to pick up the phone and make that call? That journey inward will have to wait.
I am blessed because my wife knows how I struggle with expressing my emotions. She rarely tells me what to do. Over the last few weeks, she told me to “make the call”. I am grateful that she made me do that. At a time when we cannot be there in person to support those we care about; the call is all we have to offer. To show up – albeit virtually. To share silence. To hold and share space. To remember.
At one level words seem empty. What can I say that will make the pain bearable? And yet in every place where I have connected, the words do seem to find a way to flow.
As if by serendipity out of the hundreds of books that are in my bookshelf the one that found its way into my hands today is ‘loss’ by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi. His words are beautiful.
Two lines from the book that seems so relevant for the times we live in, where we are forced to grieve from afar…
“Slowly collecting between these three cities was a silent pool of loss. We would have to wade through it now and come over to the other side”
I am scared of what I may lose. I feel guilty enjoying a meal when people around me are unable to do the same. I am tempted to try and shut the world out. I then remind myself that my world is the world out there. “Make the call. Show up in the best way you can. The words don’t matter. Be present.” I tell myself.
If ever there was a time for the communicator in me to fight to find a way to connect with those I love and care for it’s now. Maybe I don’t need words to communicate. There are other ways to connect. My wife inspires me and shows me the way. She does it without a thought. It is in her nature. She knows no other way.
It reminds me of the old saying. Lead. Follow or get out of the way. That is the only way forward. As a community. We must come together. Lead each other out of the darkness. Loss teaches and reminds us of what is truly important. I can be at a loss for words but I cannot lose kindness and compassion.
I must pick up my phone and lose my discomfort with uncomfortable emotions. As a friend of mine who lost someone dear to him reminded me, “you know how to listen” and that is more important than what you say.
Communication. The other person speaks. I listen. I can do that. I must do that. I am no longer at a loss for words. Are you listening?
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