Momservation: “There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” ~Bernard Williams
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I’ve looked into too many eyes this summer of people suffering devastating losses. All of them unexpected—said as if knowing it was coming would somehow lessen the ache of sorrow.
First, there was my son’s friend suddenly reeling from the tragic loss of a dad and devoted father who should have been in his prime.
Next came word that a friend lost her middle child just weeks before his 14th birthday, a future full of promise suddenly cut short.
Then today my neighbor, who lost a son at birth a few years ago, finds herself picking up the pieces of her life again after her husband left her and their two young girls— forcing them to uproot and sell their house.
The instinct, of course, is to reach out and comfort. But what do you say? What are the words that can pierce the haze of disbelief? What are the words that offer a life ring when you’re drowning is sorrow? What are the words that offer a warm blanket of hope against the agonizing chill of feeling forsaken?
There are none.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Because it’s the act of trying that brings comfort, rather than the actual words themselves.
It is the human connection and compassion reaching out in any form—cards, meals, flowers, donations, taking over day-to-day obligations that have suddenly become overwhelming—that replaces words that have suddenly lost meaning.
It is not the individual words of condolence and comfort that we offer, but the collective volume of those offerings that creates a community of people stitching together a safety net to break the endless fall of sorrow.
I know because I have been there. And one day, all those words that did little to pierce my pain, start to gain meaning again. You know what was the first word I started to believe in again?
Hope for the pain to lessen. Hope for the tears to dry up. Hope to feel joy again. Hope to believe life does go on and is, indeed, worth living.
So that’s what I offer to those who are suffering. Words of hope. Specifically, these words:
God has better days ahead.
He always does. He’s given us mountains for every valley, sunrises for every sunset, a summer for every winter, a birth for every death.
I believe He has better days ahead for each of us because I’ve spent 33 years collecting proof of it. I hope I’ll get 33 more. Even though I know it’s inevitable I will have another heart wrenching turn on the dance floor of life.
But all I have to do is look into the eyes of my children to reaffirm that life can be better than I ever imagined it could be.
One day Anthony may be a father himself. One day Erin’s two other sons may give her grandkids. One day Christy will be enjoying a holiday house filled with the happy sound of her grown girls’ families.
And they will be living the joy of the words they thought would never bring comfort: