This past week has been very difficult for my family. My sister-in-law's mother died unexpectedly on July 1, after just being diagnosed with cancer a couple of weeks ago. I found myself at a loss for words to convey how I was feeling when I heard the news. Almost immediately, I began to worry that I would say the "wrong" thing, that I would not be able to express myself in a way that would show compassion in the midst of my sister-in-law's loss. I knew that I could not imagine what she was going through. I am blessed to have both of my parents healthy and still living.
I have always been better able to deal with facts than with feelings. I'd much rather stick to intellectual knowledge, logic, proof, anything concrete that I can touch, see and hear. I am much more equipped to deal with physical pain rather than emotional pain. That viewpoint was at times helpful when I was still working in the health care field, but I have since learned that that viewpoint does not serve me well when it comes to my day to day interactions with others.
Now, I can see that my ability to identify my feelings, and to allow myself to experience my emotions without trying to run away from them, has changed. I am learning to sit within the silence and stillness, in God's presence, even if it feels uncomfortable. After the family viewing time passed, I went out into the lobby of the funeral home and watched people as they came in to pay their respects. I was still trying to figure out what I should say to "make it all better" because that is what I tend to want to do. I wanted to fix something that cannot be fixed and I felt helpless as I sat with my two nephews, ages 5 and 7, trying my best to answer their questions in a way they might be able to understand. It broke me heart to see them crying, knowing that they will not have Grammy here to laugh and play with them anymore. As the visitation period was ending and I took my seat in the funeral parlor for the service, I was still racking my brain for what to say. I sat there, listening and praying for God's guidance and about halfway through the service it came to me. In my mind, I could hear my good friends gently reminding me to "keep it simple" and "put it in God's hands". The service came to a close and as I went up to the casket one last time to pay my final respects, I looked over at my sister-in-law, my brother and my two nephews, I wrapped my arms around them and simply said "I love you". I don't believe that any big, fancy words could have expressed my emotions or the compassion that I felt for them any better than uttering those three simple words, words which came from my heart rather than from my mind. If I continue to seek out God's guidance in whatever I am facing, I will not find myself at a loss for words.