Sunday, May 17, 2009

69. When words fail

Untimely death of someone presents one of the most difficult challenges of communication. As a friend, relative or acquaintance, we may be required to visit the family of the person, but words desert us. In fact, the tragedy may at times be so big that no words will help. Whatever we say may sound a mere formality and increase the pain of the family.

Some people find it so unusual not to speak that they start by asking how the death occurred, although the entire world might be aware of the facts. It does not seem right to force the bereaved to go through the trauma of narrating the unpleasant facts time and again just to satisfy the other person’s urge to strike up some conversation.

Some people come up with clichés like ‘It was God’s will, what can anyone do?’, ‘Why did God do this ?’ In most cases, such clichés can only sound superficial and irritate.

The best option, perhaps, is not to say anything at all. It is enough to be just around and see how we can be helpful to the family. We may just respond to whatever the bereaved has to say. If he is trying to come to terms with the tragedy by talking to himself, it is best not to interrupt the process.

There are situations when words fail to serve the purpose of communication. It may then be advisable not to trouble one’s vocal chords and be helpful by just being around.


Rajesh said...

I agree wit you. I always end up for searching for words in such occasions.

Aparna said...

Sometimes a presence can be more powerful than any hollow words. Expressing grief is not always easy. Perhaps it is better to stay quiet than to say any thing meaningless.

lala said...

i know what you are talking about... half a year back i lost someone i was very close to... so, yes. what you say is true. very true.

How do we know said...

yes and no. its not the content that matters, its the fact that a silence is being filled. I think it is upto the grieving family to decide whether they prefer silence or sounds.. and then, its also a function of how you relate to the bereaved, and the departed..

Having gone thru the healing process of the Indian post death 13 day rituals, i will vouch for it.. words and all..

Kadri Luik said...

It really bothers me that the death of people that I know and love has become some sort of habit. I'm so used to it now that I don't feel uncomfortable anymore, the words and the actions comes to me out of habit. I find myself sitting here trying to figure out how many have died this year ... 7. Cancer most of them and then a very tragic accident.

I always ask "When?" since it does matter to me, I want to mark the day in my calendar so that I remember it in the future. Once that part is dealt with I simply listen.