There are several phrases that people say (with all good intention and desire to comfort) that have always troubled me. One of those phrases is "God never gives us more than we can bear." I really do understand that this phrase is meant to give courage and remind us of all the times we struggled, survived, and remained whole. It is good to remember that even when we are struggling or wounded, that we do have resources (our own spirit, our community and loved ones, The Light that walks with us even in the darkest times).
But to me how the phrase is constructed implies a god that would intentionally "give" us the worst sorrows of our lives. Implying a god that is either very cruel or very capricious. Secondly, it implies that we must not fail, or fall apart, or be wounded in ways that it takes a life time to try to heal - that terribly wounded person must be outside The Light.
... So I've come up with other things to say that hopefully convey my presence and the presence of something made wholly of Light. I usually say, "I am here for you, your loved ones and community are here for you-you are not a lone." Or " I know you are doing the best you can- what looks like help right now? " Many times just being present is enough- no words are necessary. A touch or a hug is all that is needed.
(Painting by Julia Rogers based upon the song Three Women)
I have been surprised by who shows up and who doesn't, who is comfortable and who isn't, and how folks show their care for both me and David during this process. It's not always the people I would've thought.
I too struggle with those well meant phrases. "At least it was short and quick", 'You're young you'll recover quickly", and the one I dislike the most right now: "At least he's in a better place and looking down and caring for you." I probably dislike it the most because I don't feel him looking down and caring for me, I feel particularly alone most of the time. I don't feel his loving presence, I don't have him coming to me in dreams or hear his voice or catch a whiff of his scent. He is simply not here. In my heart I think I believe that he did indeed go to some better place, he became one with the light and love that is at the core of this world. And that is a good thing. But why would he be interested in looking down on me? He's simply gone on to a place of blazing light and love. And I suspect the idea of me as a seperate being from him and all the rest of that light and love just isn't a reality any more. Once we are there, this reality no longer exists. Anyway, that's where I am these days. So it's not very comforting to have folks tell me he is looking down sharing in my joys and sorrows. I feel more as if I have been left behind until it is my time to return to the Source.
And right now it often feels like getting through, day by day. I believe that will change, but it's going to take some time. And in the meantime the things that are really comforting and helpful are simple presence. Get me up and out of the house, have a cup of coffee with me and talk about your life, give me a hug, take me on a hike, dance with me. I don't need comforting words, I need comforting presence.