I have lost people I love dearly, but experiencing loss does not give me any special insight. All I can bring today is what I know. I know my own story. I know several families with critically ill kids, and I see them. I am them.
But then, there is loss.
What can we do when yet another family transitions from fighting to mourning? Condolences can ring hollow – especially when directed at a newly grieving family. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak. There is already enough silence in death, and we shouldn’t add to that chasm just because we can’t find the words.
We must get over the fact that we might not say the right thing; there simply is no blanket statement or correct sentiment to ease unimaginable grief. But we can do something. Send a card. Make eye contact. Make a casserole. Make a comforting noise. Make an effort to share our light and our self and our time.
Even more importantly, we must continue extending that light in the years to come. Life goes on for the observer, but for the observed, a dynamic part of the world is forever stopped.
Being afraid of death or confused by the “why’s” should not take away our ability to offer something of ourselves to those in mourning. From my perspective, I see three kind approaches: be there, be patient, and be genuine. If we reach out with thoughtful concern, most of what we do or say will have merit.
We can’t expect to fill the void, but we can put a part of ourselves near the memory that lives on. Where there is nothing we can put something.
Our attempt may seem insignificant, but any thoughtful act can find a place inside the hollow of grief. That is the only way I know of to keep surviving loved ones from trying to exist on empty.