DEAR KRISTIN: For the first time in my entire life, I’m facing the holidays without my sister, who passed away two months ago after a short, sudden illness. I’m not sure I know how to navigate this world without her, much less navigate the holidays with such a heavy heart. Please take my hand and offer me a little comfort. I can’t seem to find myself. -- LOST
DEAR LOST: I can feel your broken heart, and I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I am holding you high in my thoughts and prayers.
What I love about your letter is that, in the depths of your pain and in the darkest moments of your grief, you are asking for something that is pure and simple. You are asking for something that I can definitely provide: Comfort.
I will indeed take your hand and offer you words of comfort as you walk this difficult path. You will get through this. You are already stronger than your own grief. You will not let your grief take you out. But it’s also important to stand in the midst of your grief: Face it head-on, for it definitely has a reason for being, but don’t let it pull you underwater.
Your letter is a stunning reminder to all of us that the elegant simplicity of a comforting word is often all that is needed. Nothing more, nothing less. As you read my words, I hope that you can feel me taking your hand. I will comfort you. You are not alone.
In today’s hard-charging, sharp-edged world, we sometimes forget the importance of simply offering love and comfort to one another. Yes, I could tell you that you need to see a grief counselor (which you do), but for now, I will offer you my outstretched hand, along with the hope that you’ll be able to feel my loving energy.
And yes, I could offer a long list of grief-busting tips and techniques that you could try, but for now, let my love be sufficient. For now, let my outstretched hand be the cooling balm you need to help you ease your burning grief.
And here I turn to my wider audience: When you are approached by someone who is hurting, try to think through the best way to help them. We don’t always have to slip into the “here’s-what-you-need-to-do” mode. Sometimes, just a warm hug, an outstretched hand or a whispered prayer is enough.
This might sound strange, coming from an advice columnist, but I am convinced that in times of crisis, people need compassion and comfort as much as they need practical, prescriptive guidance. We must learn to balance both.
I will turn back to my letter-writer now, to repeat these important words: You are not alone. I am right beside you, holding your hand. I will not be offering you platitudes or prescriptive advice.
I love you without ever even having met you, and today, in this moment, I will let my love for you suffice.
We must learn to let love be enough.