What Do You Say?


What do you say? Those who are grieving are in need of healing words. The disciples were are at loss I am sure after Christ died.  Then today in the Gospel, the two Marys ran with fear and great joy we are told to tell the disciples the good news of the resurrection, only to bump into Jesus along the way. Jesus knows that they are afraid and tells them not to be. At that very moment the guards were being told by the elders what they must say–that the body was stolen overnight. These words are still whispered centuries later. The resurrection never happened. It was all a ploy. I am not buying it. Those words are not helpful to me and do not ring true.

Words….they can heal or harm. I have mostly found what people are saying to me to be healing. I know that people do not really know what to say and that most people come from a good intention.  Of course, we know what people say about good intentions. Regardless, I know that it is a challenge.This experience is not easy for any of us but what if we focused on the gifts for now instead of the sorrow? I do not mean to deny the feelings of pain and sadness, but I also feel an incessant need to embrace the joy and beauty around me.

There will be times when I am overcome with the reality of my situation and those feelings are also real. Last night, after Easter supper, I dropped my parents off and they both struggled to get out of my car easily. Avoiding the mud made it tricky for them to maneuver. I assisted them both and watched as they walked to the house. I felt a deep sadness arise within me.  It seems incredibly unfair to not be able to help them into their dying days.

I thought about this as I drove home and as I walked up to my own apartment, that sadness created a few tears. My neighbour spotted me and I pulled myself together so that we could engage in a conversation for a few minutes. He asked if I was going back to work soon. I replied that I was not returning to work. He looked puzzled for a moment and then inquired if I had retired. No, I responded. The look in his eyes said it all but he accompanied it with these simple words: I am sorry to hear that. The tears that I had pushed aside leaked out. I explained that I had just come from my parents and was wondering how they would manage without me. I know that my siblings will do their best–I have no doubts there. I also know that I offer something different as we each do. As we talked about my upcoming trip and using my time to live fully, he once again spoke with wisdom: You are making me think.  That was all he said but it was how he said it that convinced me our conversation had impacted him about life choices.

I see the sadness in some of the eyes that look into mine. I know people wish for a different outcome. We all did. I also see the great joy when people greet me. I understand how these two seemingly different emotions can reside in the same heart.  What do you say to someone like me? I think honesty is the best route. Do not try to be trite or search for platitudes. Say what is on your heart. Your tears will trigger mine and that is ok. I am learning to accept mine.

Mostly rejoice that I am continuing to live in the moment and be grateful. I struggle to say that I am dying because at the moment I am very much living. I know that many are afraid as I embark on this pilgrimage–that I may not be well enough, that I may get sick, that I could tire easily, that it is not worth it in the end….and so many other fears that arise. I meet those with the same attitude that I always have. Fear is not welcome here in my heart or head.  I invite peace in. I, still very much alive, want to see two new countries to add to my list of places visited. I long to walk in the footsteps of a man who has shaped my thinking and spirituality. Tell me that I am consistent in how I live. Do not focus on my dying. Focus on what I am still learning and doing.  I may not be able to walk the kilometers that I would normally do on this trip but I am able to soak in whatever beauty I can and I cannot think of a better way to spend the next three weeks. My faith has been the centre of my life from a very young age so I embark on this pilgrimage not out of fear but with great joy.  I am not seeking a cure but I am going to be attentive to miracles. One of the amazing lessons from Miracles From Heaven is the reminder that we miss the daily miracles. During my travels I want to soak them all up with appreciation for each one.

What do you say to me? How about some of these phrases? Gosh, I love that you are living so fully. What beauty did you see today? What has God taught you in this moment? Keep on living. Continue to learn and grow. I love you. You mean the world to me. Thank you. Forgive me. I forgive you. Be healed. Watch for the daily miracles.These focus on the issue at hand while being a positive reinforcement of the moment.

I stumbled across this blog http://thislifeilive.com/ about two country musicians and Joey’s journey with cancer. I could tell that both she and Rory were attentive to the miracles that God presented them with. I only last night found out that Joey had passed away and I caught up on the story, reading until late. I was encouraged by their courage, honesty and joy. These folks knew what to say. We are afraid of death–and I would venture to say that some of us are even afraid of the resurrection. Our society does not do death well. I still have worth. I still have lessons to learn. I continue to be very much alive to the best of my ability. Can you say the same? I sure hope so.

I move into this time of resurrection with great joy. I am excited about the pilgrimage. I am trying not to go with too much expectation but I have a sense that it will be a journey that I will not soon forget. I have had several of those in my life and I am grateful that I will have yet another.



Reflection Questions

What have you said to someone who needs healing words that has been helpful?

How would you want to live your last days?


Jesus, Risen Saviour, you know that our emotions collide within us. Help us to sort through them all and to rest in the joy and peace that you promise us. Amen.


About sstyves

A Canadian prairie girl rooted in Ignatian spirituality, I seek God in all things. Whether I catch a glimpse of the Divine and delight in its presence in nature or in the beauty of an encounter with someone, I am ever so grateful that I can recognize the Creator. I greet each new day with hope and happiness, expecting blessings and miracles because I am created to praise, love and serve God. This blog is one way of realizing that through my writings, prayers, and photography. To God be the Glory!
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6 Responses to What Do You Say?

  1. Heather says:

    Another great post Suzanne. I will take what I can from it and I hope be more thoughtful when dealing with someone in a difficult situation. I do find it hard to speak honestly to someone who’s life is upended, I want them to know I care but of course do not want to make them sad.
    Safe travels, I hope it is everything it can be for you 😊

    • sstyves says:

      You have such a caring heart, Heather, and I do not think you need to worry about what to say. I suspect what you say would be perfect, as it has been with me.

  2. Karen Wheadon says:


    I loved your neighbors comment, ” you are making me think”. I think your posts make all of us think…and that is a good thing, a positive impact. I’m so happy that you are choosing to embrace life, to live fully and see the beauty, to continue to grow and learn. I have had a few non traveler friends question why I would embark on this 6 month tour of SEA…well it’s exactly that…to continue to grow and learn and to live fully while I can. I may not be able to do this intense kind of travel in my sixties.

    You are making the right choice to go on your trip. I never questioned it from the time you ,mentioned it. It is meant to be. Yes, like others, I worry that you will have the physical strength to do this journey, but I know should anything happen along the way, you will be looked after. There is that possibility, I know you know that, but little miracles can happen. Continue to listen to that inner voice and do it:) you do not fear the unknown…what a gift:) The story of bringing your parents home, touched me. I know how difficult this must be for them and you. You want to focus on the joy of living yet yet the emotions of this situation are there and cannot be dismissed, can they.

    Thanks for allowing all of us to be honest because it is tough to always know what to say, but I’m on the other side of your written words ….reading, listening, feeling. Thank you for your kindness in giving us suggestions on what to say and for acknowledging how awkward and difficult it can be for us.

    I’m so happy you’re going on this pilgrimage. For sure it will be an unforgettable journey for your heart, mind and soul is so open to receive.

    We are now on the island of Langkawi, arrived today. Staying in a rustic studio in rural village about 30 mins walk outside of popular beach resort town called Cenang. The village is Muslim and I feel very safe. Malaysia is a very Muslim country. I have spoken to many and they have been very friendly to me. It felt so different to me at first, 2 weeks ago arriving in KL. but I do not feel fear of the unknown:) they love cats but not so much dogs:).

    The owner of this property is Muslim. Her name is Marina and what a welcome she gave us. Met us at airport, welcome basket of breakfast items, drove us around for quick orientation and to pick up groceries. Now how kind is that. Her husband had a heart attack a year ago, only 40. He had a stint put in his heart. But today not feeling well, weak, so spending 3 days in hospital under observation. Let’s pray all will be well.

    The name of our studio is Damai and it means peace in Malay:)

    Good night mi Amiga Suzanne, Safe journey, I love you, Karen

    Sent from my iPad


    • sstyves says:

      It sounds like you continue to have an amazing experience on your own travels. Travelling has been one of the most important things I have done in life. I treasure what I’ve seen, who I have met, food that I have tasted, and activities that I have done. I have learned so much, my mind has opened to extraordinary concepts, and my soul has been nourished because of it.

      Keep thinking, Karen. Don’t let other people dictate what you should do. Follow your heart – it is a very good one. Blessings!

  3. Eileen M McCullagh says:

    Suzanne, thank you..as always, for your thoughtful expression.
    There are tears yet to shed in my own grief journey…for healing is ongoing.
    For me, a light that shines on my path speaks with these words.
    Loss, in no way means that I am lost. Grateful eileen

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