By nature, I am quite verbal – a “think out loud” type of person. I organize my thoughts, and problem solve by talking things through. Quite often I better understand what I am thinking when I hear myself say it!
When my younger brother died 5 years ago at the age of 51, nothing made much sense. Talking about it was excruciatingly painful. Words were not adequate to communicate my vast and intense feelings.
I gained a first hand understanding of the gift of compassionate silence. I think I learned about better ways to support friends and family who are grieving. The following poem written by Kelly Osmont, MSW about her grief over the loss of her son is a touching articulation of the gift we can give grieving loved ones. No flowers, no cards, no words of wisdom necessary. It is more than enough to just be present and listen with your heart.
Please, See Me Through My Tears
Kelly Osmont, MSW
You asked, “How are you doing ?”
As I told you, tears came to my eyes… and you
looked away and quickly began to talk again. All the
attention you had given me drained away.
“How am I doing?”… I do better when people listen, though I
may shed a tear or two..
This pain is indescribable. If you’ve never known it you
cannot fully understand.
Yet I need you.
When you look away
When I am ignored,
I am again alone with it.
Your attention means more than you can ever know.
Really, tears are not a bad sign, you know!
They’re nature’s way of helping me to heal…
They relieve some of the stress of sadness.
I know you fear that asking how I’m doing brings me sadness
… but you’re wrong.
The memory of my loved one’s death will always be with me,
Only a thought away.
My tears make my pain more visible to you,
But you did not give me the pain… it was already there.
When I cry, could it be that you feel helpless, not knowing
what to do ?
You are not helpless,
And you don’t need to do a thing but be there.
When I feel your permission to allow my tears to flow,
You have helped me.
You need not speak. Your silence as I cry is all I need.
Be patient … do not fear.
Listening with your heart to “how I am doing”
relieves the pain,
for when the tears can freely come and go, I feel lighter.
Talking to you releases what I’ve been wanting to say aloud,
clearing the space
for a touch of joy in my life.
I’ll cry for a minute or two…
and then I’ll wipe my eyes,
and sometimes you’ll even find I’m laughing later.
When I hold back the tears, my throat grows tight,
my chest aches, my stomach knots…
because I’m trying to protect you from my tears.
Then we both hurt… me, because my pain is held inside,
a shield against our closeness … and you,
because suddenly we’re distant.
So please, take my hand and see me through my tears …
then we can be close again.