Friday, September 16, 2016

What to Say

Haven't we all been there? Someone we love is hurting, and we want to take away the pain, and we feel a deep need to say something but we suddenly have a keen awareness that nothing we can ever say will come close. The result:

*Silence.*

That had been my default. I realize now that I have stayed silent in the midst of some of my friends' personal tragedies because I knew my words could do nothing. [and if my words can do nothing, what do I have to give?] [and for that, my friends, I am sorry; I am sorry that I was absent from your time of pain because I was so focused on myself and my inability - that I failed to just come near and be a friend to you]

Two months walking in the valley of the shadow of death has taught me one thing:

the grieving do not expect your words to do anything.  
So, stop worrying about your words so much. 

The best thing that you can give to the grieving is ... your story of their person. 

Really.

Tell them your favorite memory; tell them how you met; tell them the impact he had on you no matter the length of time. ...and, if you don't have a story, you should ask them to share theirs. The grieving have a lifetime of memories that we never want to lose...and yet, we may not want to become "those people" who just keep bringing up the dead. [Note: I am going to be one of those people. Dan-stories - us-stories are my favorite. So, just suck it up, friends, and listen.] (also, I know you will; I'm "just saying.")

What I want to hear from people, especially now, is their story of Dan. ...and what I REALLY want most from people, especially now, is their story of us....because, I haven't just lost Dan; I've lost us. And, if you know me at all, you know that my deepest heart desire is that my life positively influence others - and that extends, especially, to my marriage.



If you attended Dan's funeral, you might remember Father Mark saying that the hardest times for me will be coming. When I say "especially now" - I mean, "especially now." The shock is finally starting to wear away; the feeling is coming back from the numbing impact of Dan's death. Many people have been processing the absence of Dan for two months - but, it is just now starting to settle into my reality.

...and it sucks.

So, I'm going to need more hugs than I did earlier. If I'm crying, just let me talk about whatever my feeling is at that moment that is making me cry - and do not feel any need to try to talk me through the feeling or reason with me. Just let me share the feeling while I cry. ...and those stories - share those stories, my people.

3 comments:

PJ Colando said...

I'll call you - and not even 'maybe'

Elizabeth O'Donnell said...

Jessica, First, I continue to carry you in my heart. I can only imagine the pain you are feeling. The closest person I have lost was my dad and my heart was broken, I loved him so much. While I have been silent, I hold you close in my heart with tenderness and much loving prayer.
I was struck by the way you and Dan shared your faith together. Your presence together at Sunday mass always impressed me, EACH Sunday, and as I watched the two of you go hand-in-hand to communion. Each of you came with an open, generous heart willing to serve the community in any way and to be a part of the community in loving friendships. When I think of Dan, our conversation flashes into my mind; He's not a hugger, and he wasn't sure what to do when I hugged him to welcome him to the parish. A smile comes to my face each time I remember that.
I know I didn't have as much time to get to know the Dan that your friends speak of in posts,but I was aware that there was so much more to him behind the quiet manner I encountered in our exchanges at the parish. The night of your card party at your house gave me a broader glimpse into him, for which I was very grateful. Mostly, when I think of Dan, I think of "Dan and Jessica Kiesling", a vibratnt, loving, healthy couple who relied on their faith to live life and especially, to live each day of their marriage. I hope this helps to fill your heart with another person's perspective and memory of Dan.

Elizabeth O'Donnell said...

Another thought; I have a cousin in Colorado who's kids are showing livestock as 4Hers in local events and in their county fair. They are winning awards for showmanship and other things (of which I am uneducated!). Each time I see these kids posts on facebook and learn of their hard work, progress and recognition received, I think of Dan! I'm a city girl who never knew anyone involved in livestock! I think of him and wish I had had more time,to learn from him. He was an interesting person with whom I enjoyed conversation.