When Words Fail

Many of you who read this blog have read at least a little bit of the circumstances surrounding my old college friend Chad Cole and the loss of his wife and daughter. What’s amazing to me is that Chad continues to blog his experiences.  I suspect that many other people would have stopped by this point.

I was moved yesterday by Chad’s post from the 16th.  He’s moved into a new phase of grieving – getting used to a “new normal”.  I’ve not had to deal with the loss of my wife or children yet (God forbid… please), but I can still remember what it was like when I lost a parent as a young teenager.  After the immediate shock, after the funeral, when the well-wishers have returned to their normal lives, you’re left with an empty, hollow feeling that can’t be comforted.  You find yourself having to face head-on the realization that what happed was real, that you’re not dreaming it all, and that it’s not going to change.

I sit at a distance and watch these things happen to Chad, and my heart grieves with him because I can only empathize with the enormous sense of loss.

For my part, though, the most frustrating thing about being a spectator to all of this is the knowledge that there’s not a damned thing I can do to really help.

What do you say to a man who had his wife and his only child taken from him all at once?

In the book of James, the author writes:

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by actions, is dead.” (James 2:14-17  NIV)

This is where whipping out the “Big Book of Bible Cliche” falls short.  This is where words fail.  It’s easy to say “I’m sorry for your loss”, and it may even be heartfelt when you say it, but it doesn’t change the fact that Sara and Miranda are gone, Chad is alone, and those facts are not going to change.  There’s nothing that can be done to address that.

Lord, I don’t want to be the “Keep warm and well fed” guy, but I don’t know what to do.  My brother is hurting, and it seems like there’s nothing I can do to help.  What would you have me do?

For all of my intellectual abilities, for all of my desire to be a help to my brother, for all of my longing to carry some of this burden along with him, I’m forced to admit that I don’t have a single clue about what to do.  For that, I feel like I’ve somehow failed as a Christian.

There are no answers here.  Only more questions.