From time to time I'm required to accept certain limits inherent in my worldview. This was bought into stark relief last week. Somebody whom I know had suffered a bereavement, and a glance at their demeanor and body language made clear that they were reeling as a consequence.
What do I say to them? Once upon a time that was easy; I could lie. I could offer consolation that the loved one had gone to a better place, that they were no longer suffering and subject to the troubles of this world. You'll note that points 2 and 3 remain unchallenged; the dead do not suffer, they feel no pain or emotional trauma. As for point 1, well I can only confess that my cupboard is empty. I can offer no promise of eternity, venture no trite assertions that the deceased is with Jesus, or Mohammed, or Thor. For me we have only today, only the here and now in which we can find our fullest expression as humans.
Am I being bleak? Or unkind? Is this when honesty must yield to sensitivity? Perhaps.
I can offer only kind words, genuinely expressed. I can give you a hug, or make you a warm drink. Above all, I can give you the time and the space to be who you are, and walk with you until the searing pain of grief morphs into memories that do not wound, but rather comfort and nourish and make you smile.
I cannot promise you a miracle. I can, however, be your friend. I hope it's enough.