Well there aren’t are there!? Literally no words. Even my friend who never swears swore about how bad it is that Lenny died. I haven’t seen her since Bhai died – maybe now every second word is F*ck? We received a card for our wedding anniversary – I don’t know who it is from because it had no words in it, zero. People have literally run out of words. People have text me saying “I don’t know what to say” and I just reply saying “nor do I.”
Another friend, who by her own admission uses all the swear words (yes including the REALLY bad one) way too much so they are all inadequate to describe how terrible it is that both our sons have died. Before Bhai died, I was despairing over the HSIB report for Lenny and she said there aren’t words for this and that in these really really terrible situations people should be allowed access to some special words. I don’t know where these special words could be kept? Maybe on the dark web – I don’t really know what the dark web is but it sounds like a place for the secret words to be kept.
Then there would need to be a keeper of the secret swear words box who would have to decide if you had a justifiable reason to access the secret swear words. It isn’t good enough that you have diminished the use of the normal swear words on things like burning your dinner, stubbing your toe or your washing getting rained on. Imagine being the keeper of the secret swear words box? They must hear some awful things – we should make sure they get some high quality supervision and put a time limit of 6 months or so in the post to prevent burnout….. but then they can go out in the world with the knowledge of the secret swear words and could spread them about willy nilly. Who knows what the solution is!? Maybe the solution was to never swear like 1st paragraph friend because then when you do it is more impactful but then its way too late for 2nd paragraph friend and for me if I’m honest.
Anyway…… this is all ridiculous ramblings. We only have a limited vocabulary and sometimes there really are no words. I will say this though – if you know someone who’s baby has died, or someone who is grieving a loved one the most powerful thing you can do is ask them about that person and listen.
Actually one of the things I have learnt since Lenny died is that it is a powerful gift to sit and hold space for someone to speak about hard things. To bear witness to another’s pain. To allow them to feel difficult feelings and not try to fix them or cheer them up but to validate them. Not many people can do that. We aren’t very good at it. I am pretty sure in the past I haven’t been good at it because we want the person we love and care about to feel better, we want to fix it and it is challenging to accept we can’t.
We have a tendency towards toxic positivity – finding silver linings, telling people everything will all work out well in the end and my least favourite that phrase that starts with ‘everything’ and ends in ‘reason.’ It isn’t our fault – we want to help we just haven’t been taught how to. No one told us that these things diminish and validate someone’s pain and make them feel misunderstood and isolated. There are no words but we don’t need them – we need time, space, kindness and listening ears. It is something I am going to work on more when I can switch to something other than survival mode.
The comedian, Rob Delaney, in relation to the tragic death of his son Henry said this, “If you’d like me to, quote, ‘get over’ not the death of my child, but, say, this wave of emotions that are making you uncomfortable, then the best thing to do would be to let them happen and let me feel them, and then they’ll sort of dissipate organically. The least another person can do in the human family is to bear an ounce of my shipping container ship of pain by accepting that I’m upset, sad, angry, confused.”
You should use a quote when you absolutely can’t put it better yourself and I can’t because there are no words.