Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sometimes Nothing

Pet peeve: when people say something cliche because they don't know what else they can say.

Like when your friend breaks up with her boyfriend and you tell her that time heals all wounds. Or that there are other fish in the sea.

Or when a loved one dies and all you can think of is "she's in a better place now."

I remember when my best friend called me to tell me her father committed suicide. I remember sitting on the floor for an hour or two, sobbing hysterically while she tried to explain what had happened. I didn't give her advice. I didn't know any. I hardly spoke a word that entire time. There were no words that would have sufficed, no pre-packaged, trite saying that would give her any real comfort. My heart broke for her and I felt lost. It seems to me we're taught there should always be something to say, but there wasn't-- nothing that wouldn't have cheapened that moment.

Our lives are nothing like Hallmark cards.

Sometimes saying nothing at all means a whole lot more than grasping at straws; most of the time, just being there, being a friend, being a listener, is all another person really needs. We learn to feed each other those hollow feel-better-soon sort of lines in times of trouble. And we all know they're lines, stand-ins to help us through those moments when words fail. But words fail for a reason. Because sometimes there really is nothing you can say to make it okay.

And that's fine.


Zmaga said...

I agree with you, but it sucks when you feel helpless because all you can do is listen.

Anonymous said...

This is so true. Sometimes when I have nothing to say, I feel bad though I listened. But you are right. Our lives aren't like Hallmark cards.


roc said...

apparently there's some sort of jewish tradition where after a person you know has died, you go to their house and sit with the family, and you dont say anything, you wait for them to speak, and you just sit there with them to sort of help them bear the pain i guess

ronel said...

i agree, and btw i like your banner its cute..:)

Laells said...

Beautiful advice. I whole heartedly agree with you.

I love love love your writing. I'm envious that I'm not nearly as eloquent. ♥


Vanessa said...

ZMaga: it really does suck. I always feel really awkward when something bad happens because I don't want to say anything silly but I don't want to be quiet, either. It's hard to weigh your options sometimes.

Tywo: Thanks!

Roc: That's so, so beautiful! My family is Jewish but I didn't know about that. I'm absolutely floored by it.

Ronel: Thanks about the banner! I was thinking of bugging my artist boyfriend to make me something cool to replace it someday, but I'm glad you like it :)

Julie: Thanks so much, hun! I admire your writing, too-- we all have something lovely to bring to the table!

Kemi said...

I agree,

Maybe because I'm a natural listener (i.e. not a talker)I NEVER know quite what to say at times and I envy those that always know just the right/wrong things to say all the time

I've been thinking about this for a few years and with the constant TV, radio, phone ringing and beeping. Can you imagine waiting in a waiting room in pure silence?
I really think that the value of silence in our society is lost.

Kemi said...
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