I’ve spent a long time now observing what happens to many of us when a life event takes us to some edge of human experience that is too troubling to allow into our lives.
Words no parent who just lost a baby would find consoling.
No one who has ever lost a love to suicide finds any of that consoling or helpful. Those saying them are trying to make the trouble go away.
It’s easy to dismiss these kinds of comments as coming from heartless individuals, from ignorant people, from the misguided or the misdirected. Any one of those determinations might be true, but it seems to me that at the heart of it all are the truly scary, dark places that life can take us for which we have nothing but our own heart’s terror–unless we try and say something to avoid that terror with almost anything that feels familiar.
When we start talking to avoid our own terror, two harmful things happen simultaneously: 1) we add excruciating pain to the lives of those who are already suffering; and 2) we lose our next opportunity to transform in our own lives.
The transformation can come as simply as this: STOP. SAY NOTHING. And welcome the terrorizing thing in. Let it in. Talk to it. “Tragic death, I don’t understand you. White supremacy, I am at a loss to know what to say to you. Suicide, you leave me with no meaning. Really horrible, scary thing, I see you. I allow you into the room. You are welcome here–as much as you trouble me–because maybe you are the messenger.”
Since we say those other really awful things for our own benefit, these words of acceptance and openness need only be said to ourselves, maybe while standing in front of a mirror. “I don’t like you, Trouble. I want you to leave me alone, but here you are at my door. Come in. All is welcome here.”