If you don’t know this about me—though I mention it a lot—I am a crier. I want to be someone who doesn’t cry at Hallmark commercials or after hearing the story of the woman who recently walked up to me at Starbucks and told me her daughter’s medical diagnosis and that she likely won’t live, but it’s not in my DNA.
But for friends, I cry the easiest. When my people are hurting, I hurt too.
Recently, a dear friend of mine lost her first grandchild when the baby came early—born at twenty-eight weeks—and then passed away from complications. Just typing the words brings on another rush of tears. As I walked into church this week, the sun was shining through the still-green tree leaves. It was a glorious morning, and I wasn’t sure how to reconcile the pain and loss of the night before with the bird-chirping, bright, new day.
I’m still not sure how the world keeps turning when tragedy strikes. I want to stop everyone I meet and tell them what happened so they can mourn and pray. It’s as though everyone needs to understand the heartache. Like maybe if we share it, it won’t hurt so much for them. If only we could each take a bit of this young mama’s grief for her, and then a bit of my friend’s grief, and then maybe somehow it wouldn’t hurt so much.
But I know that’s impossible. I know that now they have to walk the heavy road of grief. There’s no skipping it. This is the wise friend who once told me regarding Kara that it wouldn’t work to ignore my grief. That I needed to deal with what I wanted to avoid. That I had to walk the pain so that I could come out on the other side. And now, she has to do the same. I hate this for her. I hate it for all of them. I think we get to use big words like hate when it comes to this kind of sorrow.
My friend’s heart is broken, and I'm supposed to know what to say. At least, that’s what I tell myself. Find the right words. I should know what to say. After all, Kara and I wrote the book on suffering, right? But then I remember that, no, we’re not supposed to know what to say in this kind of pain. THERE IS NOTHING TO SAY to make this kind of suffering better.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. My soul whispers to hers, and I hope she hears me. I hope she knows how much I love her. I hope she can feel my prayers and my long distance hug. I hope she lets me grieve with her, because the depth of her heartbreak is echoing inside of my chest.
And I hope she knows I’m crying with her. Because tears are silent proof that we’re listening. That we see our friend’s pain, and though we might not be able to fix it, we’ll sit with them in it.
Jill Lynn Buteyn is a co-author of Just Show Up with Kara Tippetts, which received the 2016 Selah Award for Non-Fiction General and Book of the Year. She also writes Christian fiction with themes of love, humor, and grace as Jill Lynn. She guest blogs at MundaneFaithfulness.com and can also be found on the interwebs at Jill-Lynn.com. Jill loves to connect with readers on Facebook & Instagram.