Saturday, August 6, 2011

Word of Comfort

It's hard to know what to say. I know that it has been awkward for everyone who knows us. People want to say something, they want to acknowledge our pain, but they're scared of bringing a flood of memories that may hurt us.

Stop worrying. We can imagine how hard it is to know what to say and we appreciate it when people attempt it anyway.

In the weeks after Ryann's death we received a barrage of cards. We read and saved every one of them. Now and then we'll pull out the box and sift through them. Even though there are so many sweet and caring sentiments inside, the biggest thing that we take away is simply the fact that they were sent. That we are not alone in our loss.

One of the most painful things that commonly happens now is that people simply talk to me as if Ryann never existed. I understand why they do this and honestly I wouldn't be surprised if I did the exact same thing if I were in their shoes. It's hard to know what to say. But by not acknowledging that we had this amazing little girl, it feels like she's slowly being erased, which is one of our biggest fears. We do everything we can to keep her memory clear and vibrant and alive.

Some of my favorite cards or notes have been ones that share a specific memory of Ryann. Sometimes these memories are ones that we didn't even know existed until we read them a few weeks ago. Memories of Ryann playing at the farmers' market. Of me rolling her past a friend's house to Jared's class every day. These have been especially sweet, adding little snippets and other dimensions to our own memories.

The day Ryann died, both Jared and I received a Facebook message from my sister's husband, who himself experienced a horrific and sudden family loss recently. That message has continued to buoy me in the aftermath. The message simply conveyed that there is nothing to say, that this is awful, and that he hurt for us. And I knew it was true.

There are no good words to say in situations like this. There is no magic sentence that can be written down if you wrack your brain hard enough. But there is comfort in a reaching hand. In knowing that there are people who remember and cry and hurt with us.

Drawing at the Farmers' Market


  1. Love you both. Think of you every day and pray for continued balm for the hurt.

  2. Yes, it seems impossible to give ANY words of comfort. Very well put. Every time I think of Ryann I think of my girls and it makes me sick to my stomach and makes me not want to think of your loss. I think of you all of the time and want to give you a big hug. Thank you for writing about her. I wish I would have met her.

  3. I thought these things might be true for you so as a new friend I'm glad to read them here. I find the way that you and Jared are weathering the loss of sweet Ryann so very graceful and honest. I love that about you both and am so glad to be a part of your world. I too wish I could have known Ryann and am glad to get to know here through your stories and laughter. Love you both.

  4. A girl who I had dated some years back had a brother who killed himself. When I heard this story I was shocked. When the girl and I were dating I had gotten very close with her family. He had been a part of these memories that I had of their family. I regret not going to the funeral. Two months after this had happened I ran into the father at a get together. I didn't know what to say to him. So I began to chat with him about sports and we had a five minute conversation and we didn't bring anything up. As I walked away from the conversation I felt bad. Maybe it was the guilt that I hadn't gone to the funeral or maybe I just wanted to let them know that I cared. I walked up to the man and I told him that I hadn't seen him since his son had died and that I just wanted to let him know that I was so sorry. I added at the end that I didn't know if I should have said anything. Tears poured out of the man's eyes and he grabbed me and hugged me very tightly. As he was hugging me he said "Always say something". That has made a big impression on my life. I have no idea how you are feeling. I have no idea what you are going through. But I am very sad for you. And I can't wait for the day when every tear will be wiped away and there will be no death or mourning or dying or pain because all of these things will have passed away. God bless you.

  5. Damie,

    What a beautiful way to express your gratitude, and sorrow. You've made a path for people to express their feelings without fear of saying the wrong thing, and that is a gift you've given to everyone. Out of it will come miraculous things, like stories of others who've been on similar journeys and how their healing, or yours, brought them closer to Jesus.

    It's difficult to see how our own pain can be a conduit for miracles in the lives of others, but it does happen.

    As for my thoughts; I held you in my heart so tight that it took my breath away several times. I cried more than you'll ever know. You are not my daughter but it felt like it. I love you very much and was overjoyed to finally connect with you again. You are just as precious to me today as you were back in your younger days so it felt natural for me to imagine my arms around you.

    One important thing I'd like to say sweets. Your memories of Ryann will never fade regardless of the rest of the world. You have her pictures and videos as reminders and you have the joy of her vibrant life to celebrate with your family and friends. You'll find ways.

    My sister keeps her son's memory alive by lighting a candle every year on his birthday and sends a message out with his picture to everyone to celebrate him. We all write a message on her site every year, even though its been 14 years since.

    I planted a garden for my other nephew who drowned years ago so I think of him nearly every day. God will show you how to heal as you share your experiences with others - and what a GIFT that is to the world. <3

    All my love,
    "Mrs. Frazier"

  6. Damie, I think of you guys every day and send a little prayer up. We miss you and Ryann. She was our youngest ' staffer'. I will always remember her cheerful little smile. Annette, WWU Library