“When I think about it, my heart literally hurts.” Words spoken by a friend who recently lost a loved one. My heart was aching as I listened to the enormous weight being carried – the loss, the responsibility felt for those left behind, the grief. Having lost my father within the year, the tremendous feeling of sorrow was all too real and if I could have given a hug over the phone, I certainly would have.
A memorial service I attended over the weekend caused my thoughts, once again, to be drawn to this idea of comforting those who are hurting. How do we give support when nothing verbally expressed could possibly take away the pain?
We all accept and respond to comfort individually. I’m a hugger. The all-encompassing, you feel the hug to your core, kind of hugger; I have a friend who, if given the choice, would probably rather bungee jump off a bridge than be embraced in one of those hugs and yet, she is an extremely emotional and caring person. I know someone else who is shy, almost to the point of appearing aloof; yet she craves interaction, but few realize it. Then there are those who have tragic things happen in their lives and being unsure of how to respond, we don’t; they are left alone with the burden of their sorrow.
I’ve come to the realization that it’s ok not to know what to do, but it’s not ok to do nothing. In an age of having questions answered with the click of a button and being able to respond to every event occurring in someone’s life with a comment on a “post”, have we forgotten how wonderful it feels to receive a phone call from someone just telling us that they were thinking about us? The feeling you get when you open an actual USPS, need a stamp, letter from a friend. The warmth you receive passing the shelf that you’ve displayed the birthday cards you’ve gotten or the sentiment of someone saying they share in your loss. Those are things unable to be obtained from a computer and those are the things we should do.
There are times when schedules align and I finally get to sit face to face and talk with my friend and we discover that it’s been months since we’ve actually seen one another. I saw the post that her son picked a college and that her daughter looks adorable in Eeyore pajamas (no matter how old she is). I read about her trip to NYC and saw a few pictures, but it doesn’t compare to the look on her face when she says how glad she is that her son enjoys his new job or how proud she is of her daughter’s commitment to college classes. It’s the looks, the almost choking on your iced tea because she said something that makes you want to burst out laughing, and the “I can’t tell you how much I needed to talk” comments. Those are things you can only get when you take the time – when you make the time to get together, to be together. Face to face, real life conversations - that is what we can do. That is what I will do.