“It won’t seem so hard by-and-by dear,” said Anne, who always felt the pain of her friends so keenly that she could not speak easy, fluent words of comforting. Besides, she remembered how well-meant speeches had hurt her in her own sorrow and was afraid. (from Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery)
My sister, Amber, and I were discussing this just the other day. It has always been hard to know what to say to someone who has just experienced a loss, but somehow it is harder after you’ve walked through it yourself. Because then you know. You know how hurtful all of the little well-meant things people say really are. You know how ignorant they sound. I am more afraid now of saying the wrong thing than I ever was before I could identify with loss. But I think that fear is a good thing if it keeps my foolish mouth shut. I think maybe the best thing is to say, “I love you.” Or just, “I’m so sorry.” You could even say, “I don’t know what to say.” Because that truth is so much better than the platitudes you might be rolling around in your head.
Anyway, if your month is going like mine, it seems that everywhere I turn someone is hurting deeply. Some close to home, some far away but on a small world, some on the fringes of aquaintance. I am trying very hard to choose my words carefully in these times. I hope you are doing the same. Maybe just ask yourself what Anne of Green Gables would say. She’s as great an empathizer as ever lived on a page.