“There are no words…” is not a comfort to me, if I take it literally.

03 Sep

I’m getting a lot of words drafted, but not ready to post any of it, so just a few: My husband died a month ago. We are processing, as we were when he got his diagnosis seven months ago–yes, it was a gradual thing, though not drawn out. His goodbye week was very precious, his death was peaceful and attended by me and his parents. It happened hours after we had him transported to our hospice house, where I was to stay with him and get some rest while he was attended by skilled workers. He was eating and drinking until the last day, though and enjoying time with his loved ones. He started slipping away while we were in the garden. He had reassurances from me that we all loved him a whole lot and that we all knew he loved us a whole lot, and that he’d given us a tremendous lot. And that we’d be okay, and understood if he had to go soon. We wept, comforted each other, and then bathed him and said farewell to his remains. They are now  only ash minerals, in a heavy box by my bed.

We his family planned the memorial service and spoke about him, prayed, reflected, sang Be Thou My Vision, range a bell three times, projected a slide show. Lots of friends helped, as they had been doing in the previous months. My house is full of flowers and cards, and my freezer is full of food. The sweet peas outside our bedroom window that provided fragrant bouquets all summer are going to seed, producing a thousandfold what I planted.

One of the emails I received back from the death announcement I sent out read, “There are no words.” This struck me as standard polite lies. How the hell would I be able to gone if there really were no words?

But I thank you for your patience while I arrange them carefully.


Posted by on September 3, 2018 in Places & Experiences, Relationships


Tags: , , , ,

3 responses to ““There are no words…” is not a comfort to me, if I take it literally.

  1. brightlittlefirecracker

    September 6, 2018 at 9:06 am

    I’ve been following your blog for some time and am very sorry for your loss, though pleased that you seem to be handling it masterfully. I am the sort of person who says ‘there are no words’. I am going to rethink it as I say it in future, since I’ve read this from you, but it was always an effort to not downplay the pain of the grieving, as it were. Words can’t express everything we want them to. Beethoven once visited a grieving widow and only played the piano because of this same conundrum. So, to you, I say only that if I could say something to bring you comfort or make things easier, I would say it.

    • toesinthedirt

      September 6, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      That’s very kind of you, and your words do bring comfort. What you say reminds me that when people l say that, they mean “I don’t have words,” or that it’s very difficult to know what words can help, or even not aggravate pain. I have so appreciated the wordless (or just the usual ordinary words in the course of things) gestures and actions people have offered. I doubt if anyone would be offended or discouraged by the phrase, “There are no words,” I just took it literally on purpose to make a point (a habit). I am grateful that working with words can help heal and process sad experiences.

      • brightlittlefirecracker

        September 7, 2018 at 9:17 pm

        I’m very glad to hear that! I agree, I think it’s important to examine our habits now and again. I’m glad you’re finding words to be an outlet to process things.


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