Wednesday, 12 February 2014

When Words Aren't Enough

This is not going to be anywhere remotely near cheerful. You have been warned.

Someone I volunteered with on Iona went missing on Sunday and was found dead yesterday. A girl in the year below me at school died of cancer last week. Last year a girl in my own year was hit by a bus while driving and was killed instantly.

What on earth are you meant to do when you find these things out? What are you supposed to say? These were people I knew and talked to, sometimes daily, but not recently. I never knew them very well. I never stayed in contact. They were in my life, but they never were.

The natural reaction is to reach out to the family and the friends, those closest and say... something. But I have nothing to say that can make it any better for them. Yes, I could join the masses and email or post a comment on facebook about how lovely I thought the person was, how much they will be missed, how sorry I am. All true. But is that what the family wants to hear?

If it was me I wouldn't ever read the messages because it will never not hurt. I would want to go in hiding until it was safe to talk to anyone without seeing pity in their face. I don't know, maybe I'm in the minority here. Maybe people draw strength from how well loved their lost one is. From how many people around the world are thinking of you and your family right now.

I think the messages I'd want that would make me feel like that are messages that most would call inappropriate or unfeeling. I wouldn't want any 'thinking of you's or 'she was a lovely person's. I'd want "Remember that time she glued her hand to her jumper? What a dumbass. She was awesome." But then I'm not like most. Case and point: I did actually glue my hand to my jumper.

But then again, does it matter if I don't want those messages? I could just choose to never read them. What if it is about the person posting? Maybe wanting to tell the family member all those things and writing that message is how that person deals with their own grief. Everybody does what they need to do to get by. How can that be so bad then?