MG 1053 Carl

The Right Moment Comes

I followed the sounds of Carl’s gentle sobs. His tears led me to the back bedroom where his wife of sixty-two years made it home from the hospital just in time to die. Minutes after I arrived (and took this photo) she took her last breath. Carl held her right hand up to his cheek; his floodgates opened, his river of tears ran down her arm. I sat quietly; Carl openly wept.

Our loving instinct is to hug, touch or say something calming to someone who is crying hysterically. Sometimes it’s best to do nothing but be completely present, allowing the grieving to cry and fully express their pain. Simply placing a silent hand on the grieving persons shoulder can actually interrupt and stop the release of their pain. This well intended interruption can shift focus. I’ve witnessed people stop crying then apologize for their tears when given an unsolicited hug or even a tissue. It’s a fine line, but an important one to consider. The right moment always comes to reach out with touch or words.

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