Words Matter ~ Breaking the silence

Words MatterThere’s this lady I know . . . well, sort of. I’d hardly even call her an acquaintance, but we run into each other often enough that we talk about this and that. She’s married, hoping to buy a house, has a child — or is it two? Like I said, we don’t really know each other that well.

But then the accident happened.

I know she knows. I know she knows because of the awkward silence and the sideways glances. Sometimes the silence speaks louder than words. And while I gather children, put things back on shelves, buckle seat belts all I can think about is the silence.

It stings.

I hardly know this woman, and yet it stings. I hardly know this woman, and yet her silence can bring tears to my eyes. I hardly know this woman, and yet I wish she would say something — anything — to break the silence.

I think of all the things that I’ve been told. The words that I’ve clung to and the words that I’ve had to look past. So many different words, but all intended to express compassion, to share in my grief if only for a moment.

But the silence grates on me. And I’m not even sure I know her name.


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34 Comments on "Words Matter ~ Breaking the silence"

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Alison
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I’m not sure I know how to join in with this. I don’t twitter or anything. I don’t fully understand what it is even, but I do know the silence hurts. My sister hasn’t spoken to me since shortly after my dad died a year ago. She accused me of things that she really didn’t understand at all, things that if she DID understand, she’d know I COULDN”T do. We have one-time mutual friends who are totally silent. I know some of them are going to only see her side and not the facts, but I know there must be… Read more »
Rose Catriona
Guest
Dana, Once again I can feel how hurt you are, and I’m so sorry. I will err on the cautious side and suggest that perhaps she is very afraid, that one day she will lose a child, that she will say the wrong thing, that she doesn’t know what to say, it could be so many things that prevent her from talking. The Lord will have to deal with her, and while it hurts you, perhaps her silence is a blessing. Recently my Pastor said some very hurtful things to me and I wish he had been silent, my heart… Read more »
Dana
Guest

I’m sure she just isn’t sure what to say. It isn’t like she really knows me, but I should probably just say something. I still feel like I need to say something about the accident, but I suppose I don’t, really.

And Alison, how sad! Family disputes are so difficult and I’m thankful to not have any direct experience. Things so often get in the way. I hope you find peace . . . preferably with your sister, but at least with the situation.

Laurie
Guest

She probably feels badly that she doesn’t know what to say. Some families just never talk about terrible things and she may have been raised like that.

Almost Unschoolers
Guest

Maybe she’s afraid of adding to the words you have to look past.

Chris
Guest
Am in the same boat as Alison — no blog, no tweet, little Facebook… Haha: i really don’t read other blogs… So, no link. Do I need to make one to participate for how you want this, Dana, or is it okay to post here — maybe it bogs down your blog? (Alison, so sorry abt your sister situation, unf. and sad. Your sister would be someone who could help you grieve your dad and celebrate his life but your pain is probably compounded by the snubs and hurtful accusation. And in a small town, ugh, so sorry. Sending well… Read more »
Janel
Guest

{hugs} I know that heartbreaking silence.

I have family members that aren’t speaking. Neither side knows what to do with the other. I’ve talked extensively with both, so I understand both sides. Both were right in their respective choices, but the delivery was all wrong and the expectations of “what now” are all wrong. So I pray. There is nothing left for me to do.

And then there is… well. Let’s just say I understand.

I think this is a great idea! I’ll try to share something later today. If not, next month. : )

Amanda G.
Guest
Wow. Very powerful. I’m going through something somewhat similar. I recently experienced a miscarriage and my best friend completely acted like nothing ever happened. She would text me constantly about her pregnancy and about the pregnancies of mutual acquaintances. I just went along with it. I didn’t say anything until recently. Finally, I told her how I felt and she said she understood how much she hurt me. She never even called while I was recovering from my miscarriage; she only texted. She knows everything about me and my struggle to conceive and I feel completely abandoned by her. It… Read more »
Dana
Guest
Here is fine, Chris! I’m honored that you want to participate even without a blog! And there’s no need to feel particularly “protective” of me in this situation. I struggled over the ending so much last night (more like this morning!), but I think I need a few more lines. This is the one thing that comes up in conversation after conversation with people I talk to. The silence can be unbearable. One person said she felt like there was a sign around her neck that said she had lost a child, and everyone looked away. This is more concrete… Read more »
Dawn
Guest
I took and deep breath and wrote my post. Then I emailed my dad, and called him, and let him know that he could skip today’s post if he didn’t think he could handle the heavy nature of it. He said he will read it after breakfast. (Butterflies in my stomach.) I’ve been on both sides of the silence situation, both in losing my sister and my mom, when people just quit talking to me because they didn’t know what to say and in similar situation where a friend lost her husband. I felt SO inadequate, not knowing anything to… Read more »
Dana
Guest
That’s it Dawn, exactly. There have been times when I’ve been silent because I scarcely knew the person and just didn’t know what to say…and times when I’ve only said something because I HAD to. The person was too close to just let it slip. But now I know the other side. Though I KNOW it isn’t personal (at least not likely) it surprises me how much I do notice. A careless word, a “stupid” comment, takes a moment to get over. It happens. People aren’t trained for this. We trip over words and make a mess and life goes… Read more »
Jenn4him
Guest
I need to apologize to you for being silent. In my defense, I did not know you very well before the accident, just a little via Renae and Twitter. That is really no excuse. I should have told you that I cried for 3 days when I learned of your loss. I should have. I am sorry. Like others have said, no one wants to say the wrong thing at a time when someone is hurting. I guess now thanks to you, we know better. I may consider doing this post, but really, I am not a writer. I jabber… Read more »
Dana
Guest
Don’t worry about it, Jenn. But I did write it mostly to let people know it is OK to say something. Most people I’ve talked to say it is the silence that bothers them the most. I don’t know that that extends to online. I haven’t really thought about who has or hasn’t said anything, just been overwhelmed by the number of people who did take the time to stop by and say something! Thank you for caring about us. And my header picture just came with the free blog template I found. I want to change it to something… Read more »
Jenn4him
Guest

Thank you for your graciousness. At first I thought that was of your property, but then looked closely and saw palm trees and the water. Not Nebraska! 🙂 Too bad.

Susan Beth
Guest
Oh, Dana, what a challenge you have as you take steps forward. Take this suggestion with a grain of salt, because it is nothing more than a guess, and it may fit my style, but not yours. I wonder if the next time you see her you can give a little smile and say something like “I’m sure you heard about our loss, but it’s always been nice to run into you from time to time, and I continue to look forward to that, even if sometimes I’m just barely able to hold it together.” That way it doesn’t put… Read more »
Tancy
Guest
Dana, Thank-you for commenting on my blog today! I too should have said something to you long before now. I agree with your comment that saying nothing is hard to deal with sometimes. I wrote a poem after losing our infant daughter about silence. It was a while after and everyone else moved on with their lives and the pain was still raw and brutal for me. I took no offense from people but the silence was screaming at me! I feel your pain and I am SOOOOO sorry you have to face this trial in your life! I’m sure… Read more »
Cara
Guest
This post is such a blessing. Once again, you are ministering to others in your grief. I will make sure that I am NOT that silent one when people around me are hurting, grieving, suffering, struggling, etc. I will make sure I say something that would only encourage them. I have a friend that almost lost her baby a few weeks ago. And now, they are dealing with some serious issues (brain damage, etc.). Sometimes you do not know what to say. But God spoke to me one day- how good a word from Him is to the weary. I… Read more »
Allison
Guest
Dana, Your words read so true to me. My counselor just today brought up the same point that my outcome is far too frightening and real for some of my friends to deal with by interacting with me. That thought helps a little but the pervasive silence of many has been a very real point of hurt and anger since my daughter’s death. I agree, words do matter. Even clumsy words express the desire to comfort and willingness to walk along side even if just for a few steps. I don’t have a blog to link directly to a post,… Read more »
Mary
Guest
Wow, this was a very powerful post. A lot came to mind… Unfortunately one of the first things was something I said to a friend who lost a baby mid-pregnancy. I was so shocked when she called that I said, ‘you’re kidding!’ She hung up. We managed to reconnect but I’ll never forget how those words slipped out of my mouth. OF COURSE she was NOT KIDDING. Also, when we found out we were having our sixth child, a one of my best friends stopped speaking to me. Sounds odd, but we met in graduate school, almost 17 years ago.… Read more »