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Sharing Loss and Pain: No Words Can Express

Jeff Linamen

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A friend just had to say goodbye to her beloved pet. My cousin just lost his Mom and his dog in less than a year. Two years ago, I stood by as a family of a former student laid their daughter to rest and a co-worker buried her husband.

So much pain and grief.

I find myself without words.

I realize nothing I can possibly say will make it better. My words are not going to heal the pain or make it go away… and silence doesn’t help either– I hurt a friend deeply when I didn’t reach out– because I didn’t know what to say.

I am here.

It’s the best thing I can think of to tell someone. Maybe that’s all they need to hear– to know that you are thinking of them, that you stand with them, you’re there to listen and that you share their grief.

When I find myself confronted with someone’s loss, I get frustrated and angry that I don’t have the right words to express how I feel. No words can truly express the love, the sorrow, and the empathy– wanting to reach out but not clearly knowing the right way to do it. I have experienced loss in my life and I know that no one else can feel or has felt it the way I do. Sometimes it feels like people say things because they should, not because they understand. I cannot pretend to know exactly what someone else is feeling, which makes it so difficult to know what words to say.

I am here.

Nothing makes me angrier than to hear someone belittle someone else’s grief.

“Why are they so upset? It was only a pet.”

“They hardly knew them! Why are they so emotional?”

How dare anyone be so unkind and unfeeling! What right does anyone have to judge someone else’s grief?

Loss is Loss.

My animals are my children. Losing them is a traumatic experience. They are members of my family. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that. They’ve either never had a pet, or never taken the time to bond with them in the way I do. But- some people do understand how real that loss can be and that it can be as, or even more devastating than the loss of a person.

A friend of mine, battling leukemia, said that she’s had people say things to her like– “Don’t worry, it will get better.” or, “You’ll be fine.” She told me how angry it makes her feel because it isn’t fine. It just isn’t.

So, what are the right words to say?

I wish I had the answer.

To all my friends, acquaintances and those that may be reading this that I have never met… I do feel your pain. When you grieve, I grieve with you. I just wish I knew the right words to say.  The best I can think of is: I am here for you.


2 Comments

  1. Linda Davis says:

    This is beautiful Jeff and brought so much comfort to Alyssa. Thanks, Linda

    Like

  2. Pet’s may not be our whole life but they make our life whole.

    Like

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