Monday, July 6, 2020
Home > Grief & Loss > C is for Compassion (Choosing your words)

C is for Compassion (Choosing your words)

C is for CompassionTo a grieving heart, how you say something is as important (if not more so) than what you actually say. Because we are so focused on surviving, on remembering to inhale and exhale when all we really want to do is disappear into the vastness of wherever our loved ones have gone, because being alive hurts, we honestly do not have the luxury to see past what is said into what is actually meant by it. We just don’t.

Imagine being a child. Imagine falling down so hard on the pavement that your knee is both bruised and scraped. Now imagine someone fixing you up by roughly rubbing iodine onto your bruised and bleeding knee and telling you that you have to stop flinching and crying. This person isn’t trying to hurt you, this person is trying to help you, but when you are in that much pain, and you’re just given more pain on top of that, it’s hard to see the good intention.

Now imagine someone telling you that they’re going to help clean up your knee, but that it’s going to hurt for a while. They slowly dab at your scraps, stopping once in a while to let you catch your breath and say, “I know it hurts. I’m sorry.” Can you see the difference?

It’s the difference between fixing and healing

(unintentionally) hurtful “fixing”

  • “Be strong”
  • “S/he is in a better place” or “It wasn’t meant to be”
  • “God has a plan”
  • “You’re still young” or “Just have another one”
  • Anything that begins with “At least…”
  • Saying nothing
  • “Life goes on” or “You have to move on”

not so hurtful “healing”

  • “It’s hard for me to see you hurting, but I’m here for you”
  • “I wish s/he could be here with you”
  • “I don’t understand why this happened any more than you do, but I hope, with time, you can find peace and healing”
  • “I know how much this baby means to you”
  • Anything that begins with how you feel and doesn’t end with answers you can’t possible be sure of
  • A simple “I’m sorry” or a hug or even your tears
  • Remembering and saying that you remember

Will you share how you’ve received compassion during a time of great pain?

What did that person say? How did the how of saying it offer healing? Have you unintentionally hurt someone when you were only meaning to help? How did you learn from it?

This post is a part of a series called Unpacking Grief, which I began as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.

Crystal is a mother-wife-writer whose explorations include parenting, grief, food, and semi-crunchy living. She is currently an MFA in writing student, a content editor for Still Standing Magazine, and the technical editor for Switchback.

0 thoughts on “C is for Compassion (Choosing your words)

  1. ((HUGS)) for starters!
    The comment I hate so much is “You just have to have faith” really? I had faith when I was pregnant with Sami and well that didn’t stop my child from being sick or that didn’t stop me from having faith. I know they mean well but it is so darn annoying.
    What helps me the most is when someone actually says her name and remembers that she was very much alive even if for the most part when she was in my belly. Hearing someone mention her, acknowledge her is music to my ears.

    1. Lisette, I totally get what you’re sayiing. Sometimes, it made me feel like I didn’t have “enough faith” to keep my babies, but God does not work that way at all, and just because I was hurt, it didn’t not mean that I had lost my faith, either. Hearing my babies names’ and knowing that they are remembered are definitely so wonderful to hear!

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

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