Small talk is just not comfortable around death.
In times of fresh grief, words fail. Words can actually make things worse. Sometimes, silence is the only answer to the questions that don’t have answers.
It’s like when a child misses his parent and all he can do is look out the window, waiting. He is at the age when he can barely speak anyway, so he doesn’t say much. Most anything you do to tear him away from that window results in crying; in pain. To soothe him seems too difficult. In actuality, all you really have to do is hold him and let him know you understand. You understand with a part of yourself that aches for perhaps a different reason. You understand because you can identify with his feelings, though you can’t feel exactly what he feels; and, for that reason, to tell him you understand will not help the situation.
The silence can be uncomfortable. All you can do is make room for the pain and the tears and the unknown. You hope that eventually he’ll find his way out of it.
Fresh grief has a distinct look to it. It’s raw and unbridled and scary. After a while, it starts to gnaw away at too much of the insides of the people it affects until it begins to make its way out somehow, some way. It fumbles its way out, snotting, gasping, grasping for anything it can.
The world of death collides with the world of the living and we don’t know what to do with it. We find ourselves standing on the edge of this life and the next, peering over the edge of an open casket….. In these situations, I find myself holding a box of Kleenexes and waiting for the right time to reach over and offer a hug to a complete stranger who has now been irreversibly linked to me by this moment. We both know there’s nothing to say. So we don’t say anything. We walk ahead into the uncertainty, fresh grief dripping from eyes and a mixture emotions swirling around the room. This, my prayer: “Peace, be still.”