Sunday, February 20, 2011

When Love doesn't look like rescue

A friend lost her adult son this week, suddenly, wrenchingly. When I spoke to her, I had no platitudes, she said she had no words. What remains is presence — the promise that whatever road we have to walk, or be sent careening down, out of control, whatever we end up carrying, whatever wounds are ours to bear, we will not be alone. Robin's post at Metanoia today points to two reflections that speak to this eloquently: read what Ryan Duns SJ and Karen Gerstenberger have to say about God, faith and suffering.

"What can we do to help?" wondered so many people today. There are things to be done, to be sure. But from my experience, there is nothing we can do to help. But we can be. Be with her. That is Love.

What I didn't say to her? I can't imagine what you are going through.


  1. I am so, so sorry.

    As I settled into bed tonight, I thought: Is it possible to go to bed every night for 2.5 years with this sorrow, sometimes lighter and sometimes heavier, but never absent, and not be permanently damaged?

    And then I remembered an email I had to take care of before morning, and found this post.

    Oh God, come quickly to help us - so reads tonight's prayer. I am praying that for your friend, but I know how slowly quickly can be.

  2. I am sorry for your friend's recent, terrible loss. Thank God you are with her, and able to simply be present - so few of us are able to see that there is nothing we can do to make it better, except to show up and share those excruciating, disorienting moments.

    Thank you for your comment on my blog. I hope that your painful times at the foot of the cross will be transformed into blessing for you and those you love.

  3. Dear friend -

    I know this place. The place of companion in sorrow. Through grace of experience and love, I've come to accept there is nothing I can do, and certainly nothing I can say, to make anything better.

    However, after 11 months of sitting by my friend's side. Regularly. Closely. Often silently. But also asking, talking and mention her beloved daughter's name, I have come to the realization that I am in the presence of something SO much bigger than us.

    And bigger than our grief.

    God is in the presence. God is in the pain. God is in the willingness to sit with. I do not crave understanding. I do not wish it away. I just offer my humanity to hers. And I will watch her pain. I will not turn away.

    I will try not to blink.

    Sending you much love.

  4. Adding my prayers for your friend and for all who mourn today. As well, I will pray for the repose of her son's soul. May God grant him eternal rest.

  5. got your words this morning and your friend has been in my thoughts and prayers

  6. Thank you all for prayers for my friend and for her son, and for the grace to not blink.