Humans communicate so much through the words they use. We use Twitter, Facebook updates, text messages, blog posts, speech.
There is so much effort poured into the words we say. Sadly, at one point or another, words will fail you. Situations will arise where words are meaningless.
I found this to be true during and after my wife and I had to make the difficult choice to put our dog down. People tried to comfort us with their words.
You’ll feel better over time
You made the right choice
You did what needed to be done
You loved him and he loved you
You know, all of those words were true. Things have gotten better. We believe we made the right choice. We believe we did what had to be done. And we sure did love him.
But honestly, those words failed us at the time. They weren’t as comforting as we wanted them to be. Or as those saying them wanted the words to be. We still felt our pain.
When words begin to fail, there are actions you can take that will help communicate what you’re feeling and to show the other person you care.
Here are the actions that were taken towards us that helped us in our time of grief. I believe they can help others through their grief.
1. Be willing to be present: For me, there’s nothing like having a living, breathing person next to me. There’s comfort in their presence. There’s just something about being physically present with someone.
One person who stands out is my friend Jimmi. He showed up unannounced and stayed with me for hours. His presence meant the world to me that night.
My family also showed up. My mom helped take care of Pam and I as we grieved. My sister stayed with us through part of the night. Their presence mattered.
And then there was my wife’s friend Kalli. She helped take care of Pam while she was sick and I was mourning. Her help helped get us through.
Words meant nothing to me that night but the presence of others carried us through.
2. Be willing to listen: All too often we want to speak and share our answers with others. We want to give them the five steps to success. The 3 keys to happiness. The seven principles to get you through any difficult situation.
We’ve got to be willing to stop offering our advice. Instead, shut up, sit down, and let the other person speak. The words you’re wanting to speak to the person going through a bad situation isn’t what they need to hear. Those words will fail them. Instead, be willing to listen. Let them pour out what’s inside and clear out their heavy hearts.
3. Be willing to touch: We’ve got to be careful with this one but we need to be willing to touch others. Not in a sexual way but in a way that lets them know you care.
Be willing to give a loving hug. A meaningful touch of understanding on their shoulder. Or a hand hold.
Most people have a longing to be touched. Our touches can communicate much more than our words at times. Be willing to reach out and touch someone.
Nonverbal communication can be a tough skill to master. And yet it’s one that we all need to focus on and become better at. Learn to be present. Learn to listen. Learn to touch.
Remember, words will fail. That doesn’t mean our communication has to.
Question: What do you do when words fail? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.