Being sad with the sad.. To say or not to say..

In the past 5 months, between the passing of my mom and my dad, I received many words of comfort… or so they were meant to be…


“Move on.” These two words came as a shock to me. ‘Slowly’ was my reply.  Move on… Huh?  Move on to where?  Moving on implies leaving something behind completely. To move on means ‘Get it over with…’ Stop hovering… stop grieving.  But I do not want to move on yet… or even ever.  If or should I decide to move on, it just means that I move on from being too sad and emotional, to holding this grief with more joy and strength.


“What happened?” I sigh with weariness when I hear these two words. I’m so tired from going through the whole story of the beginning of the journey from sickness to death. What happened… death just happened. Sickness before that.. and all the stress and pressures of coping with sickness in between. What happened can be ‘Oh no!  what happened?’ or it can also be.. “I’m curious.. what happened? Tell me all about it.” My response to this is: Nothing. I do not reply at all. My word of advice to the person who said this: Please say nothing instead.

“How are you?” This is similar to what happened.. It is ‘What is now happening to you?’ My canned reply: “Better.” “Up and down.” A brief response instead of outright snubbing the ‘well-meant’ inquiry and concern. On the other hand, these 3 words help me to evaluate myself. I was forced to think and reply honestly as to how am I doing. I assess myself – am I alright? Really? How am I coping? How are you became a stepping stone for me to deeper reflective time with God and with myself.

“No need to reply.”A classmate ended her words of condolences with these 4 words.  I draw much comfort in them. I sensed her empathy knowing that she knew how tiring it must be to be responding to every word of sympathy and inquiry. These words imply: I understand if you want or need to be silent. You do not need to respond. Often silence is the best response to expect and the best to give. This brings me to my next point.

”                                 ….” When my mom passed away, I remember the story of Job. I recalled how his friends sat with him in silence for 7 days – saying nothing. (Job 2:11-13) I experimented with this note which I put on a piece of paper to show my friends who went to the wake. I said: Thank you for coming to grieve with me. Please sit with me in silence.

In the end, it worked only with a few. I stopped showing it because it is unorthodox. It did not and does not jive with our culture of grief. Ours is a culture of denial… to show a brave face, a strong spirit. To cover the sadness with much chatter.. to push away the grief with much words of ‘comfort’…

My ninang/godmother comforted me with “No words.” I appreciate a friend who told me: We do not know what to say. Another friend when she wrote about grieving for her father, said: When you do not know what to say, then say nothing.


Time for change… Start the change… Instead of words, how about no words..

How about a warm embrace… how about a hand extended in grace…

How about a smile through the tears… how about listening ears…

How about kind acts of service to start.. how about silent prayers from the heart…




5 thoughts on “Being sad with the sad.. To say or not to say..

  1. I tear up everytime I read your reflection and “piece” these past months. My heart aches for you. I wanted very much to respond but refrained, afraid that my words might trivalize what you wrote. Yet I cannot stay silent anymore this time. Pardon me and allow me to tell you that your “pieces” have touched me deeply and impacted me in more ways than you imagine. Thank you for sharing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s