There are many things I love about blogging. The writing, the reading, the commenting. But there is one thing that bothers me about blogging: commenting when someone has shared a particularly personal post.
I am rarely at a loss for words. Few things leave me speechless (or wordless- you know that- you read my posts.) Yet, when faced with someone’s heart and soul all over a page, I find myself with a blank space where my mind is supposed to be. No words in my arsenal seem adequate. How do you tell someone you’re there with them? How do you tell someone you’re glad they shared?
First off- how do you “like” a piece that was obviously hard to write, and harder to share? Hitting the “like” button often seems callous- you obviously don’t/can’t like the situation described. Yet, that’s the first, and in the case of WordPress, only option. We’re supposed to be liking a piece based on how it’s written or presented, not necessarily the subject matter. So I “like” a piece, no matter how devastating.
But “like” is not enough. I always feel I need to comment on these pieces. But what do you say?
A few weeks ago, one of my blog friends told us about some health issues that were not so great. I felt so sad for this woman, but I did not know what to say. I simply wrote
“I am thinking of you. I wish I had better words to say to you”
My blog friend responded and told me that my thoughts and that sentiment were better than all the other stupid things people say.
Score one for honesty and humility.
And that is the route I normally follow. I have also said the following:
“Thank you for sharing.”
“You are very strong and I wish you hadn’t endured this situation”
And that’s my repertoire. Those are the best comments I have. They are the lines I use when I truly feel that words are inadequate, yet I feel something more is needed.
Are they enough?
This feeling of word inadequacy extends to my real life as well. What do you say to someone who is grieving? What do you say to someone that has gone through a devastating event?
About 20 years ago, one of my closest friends lost her 3 year old son in a freak accident. I told her “I Love you.” because really- what can I say to a Mother experiencing the most ultimate of grief? Was there anything that was going to be the “right” thing? Honestly, this will be the only time you ever hear me speak of this tragedy, because I’m still not over it. I still give my friends an extra hug when I see her, and extra XO on the end of a text. Because there is nothing to say.
I think you have to be very careful about choosing the words you use to help someone through a tough time. I think many options, though meant in a good way, end up sounding callous or hard or inconsiderate. I think people grieve differently, so it’s hard to know exactly what will make someone feel better, or at least make them not feel worse. This is why I go with simplicity and brevity. I let someone know that I’m thinking of them, because that is all the solace I can offer. There is no magic formula to instantly rectify a lousy situation. I wish there was.
I’m sure I will continue to struggle with finding the proper words to console someone. I think humans are built to look for the bright side of things, so looking straight into the dark side is hard. We want to squeeze our eyes shut and wish the tragedy away. But we all know life doesn’t work like that. When you open your eyes, the pain is still there.
This is dedicated to all my friends who have had a particularly tough time of late. I’m thinking of you.