Actions do almost always speak louder than words, especially in horse therapy where we use non-verbal communication. Silence might just be thr right thing if someone is undergoing a heavy time of grief.
“I remember when my grandfather died unexpectedly. I got the call from my parents while I was at my freshman college roommate’s house. My cell phone had no coverage in that tiny Michigan town, so my dad had called my roommate’s parents’ house. My roommate’s mother looked concerned as she handed me the phone. She didn’t walk away.
When I’d heard the news, my roommate’s mother immediately pushed a box of tissues my way and went to the stove to pan-fry French toast, handing me a plate with a fork ready to go. I remember as I cried and took bites of that syrup-drenched bread, she told me stories of when she lost her grandfather. The kindness was real; the words were well-intentioned. Yet I can’t remember anything she said, nor was I comforted by any of it. What lingers is that memory of the French toast, her maternal presence, her action in my grief.
Life’s tragic occurrences pop up more often than we would hope in the lives of the people we love. Yet few people have mastered the art of responding well to heavy news. We’re simply not all trained in the art of listening. Professional counselors and psychiatrists are the ones who know how to listen and what is most helpful to say in response. They understand what kinds of comments a grieving person will receive as helpful, and likewise, the type of comments that will sting, irritate, and fall flat.
I spend a lot of time in the car with nothing to do except steer and soak up radio waves. After I listened to the radio host say “I wish they had never said anything in the first place” so bluntly, I pondered his response. Was it too harsh to react to his friends this way? Did he have a right to request his friends’ silence, like the Biblical character of Job? Job endured endless words from his three unhelpful friends in the midst of losing everything.”