Don's reflection warmed my heart--even on a day when it is well below freezing in New York City--and brought a tear to my eye. It especially touched me because it reminded me of my own grief and that of my four young children when my husband died suddenly several years ago. It was other people's ability (and willingness) to just be present that somehow helped us to know that God really was present, even through the darkest of valleys...S.
"Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh" (Luke 21:21b)
As volunteer hospital chaplains, we become accustomed to ministering to individuals facing life threatening illness in their own lives and those of family members. Recently, however, I found myself in a situation that overwhelmed me and left me feeling completely helpless and speechless.
After completing my "rounds", I returned home only to be paged and directed to return for an emergency. On arrival at the hospital I was informed that a 28 year old mother of two had just died very suddenly and unexpectedly. I was told that this young woman's mother, brother and sister, and fiancee had just been informed and were sequestered in a "quiet room" just 30 feet away. The charge nurse asked me to go to them and "bring them comfort".
As I slowly walked the short distance I felt as helpless and inadequate as I have ever felt in my life. What could I possibly say to a mother who just lost a beautiful young daughter? What could I say to her brother and sister? What could I say to her finance who just saw his hopes and dreams vanish in a heartbeat? Everything I could think of seemed flat and empty.
When I entered the room I found it was even more complicated than I thought. The mother was foreign born and spoke little or no English. She was wailing and pulling at her hair as the others in the room sat weeping. I stood there trying to find something to say.
Nothing came to my mind other than this woman's uncontrollable and overwhelming grief. At last I simply reached out and hugged the woman to me and held her as we rocked back and forth in silence. After quite some time she regained her composure and wept silently. After a while I offered a prayer in English and she prayed in her language. I could not understand her and doubt she understood me but we were united in prayer. As she left with her remaining children she gave me a slight smile and nod of her head.
Sometimes there are simply no words to offer. There is just being there for a brother or sister in pain and holding them, just as God holds us all.