Of Tears And Terrible Sounds (When Life Is Too Painful For Words)


My dear, hurting friend,

I want words right now.

I want words that will fix this; ones that will repair all that is so terribly broken here.

I want words that will turn back the clock and undo the damage and erase the heartache for you.

I want some words that will provide you answers or hope or relief or escape.

Right now I am straining so desperately, reaching so frantically for these words so that I can give them to you, but they aren’t coming and I know they won’t come.

This wound is too invasive, this fracture too severe, this day too dark for mere words.

They all fail.

They all feel worthless.

They don’t say anything remotely worthy of your suffering.

The only language that speaks eloquently into pain like this is made of tears and terrible sounds.

When the heart is so battered and the anguish so full and the senselessness so great, there is a guttural noise that comes; a “sigh too deep for words” that breaks forth from your insides and burns your throat raw as it violently leaves your body.

These are the wordless cries of the soul in the throes of despair. 

I know you recognize that all too well.

I know that you’ve spent far too much time here than anyone should ever have to, here in these tears and terrible sounds.

I also know that I can’t simply reach in and pull you out, because this sadness is far too heavy for that. 

You can’t leave now, anyway.

You have to stay here and endure, and wait until the pain does the horribly invasive work it needs to do and allows you to move.

And although I can’t bring you out, I can try to meet you there in it all.

I can abandon my search for useless words and run to join you in that awfulness as best as I am able.

Please know that I am trying.

I can’t dare to know exactly how you feel or to understand the magnitude of the sadness in your heart and so I can’t share that very specific mourning space with you, but as much as my love and understanding allow, I am here.

I grieve along with you now, my dear friend. I cry and I scream and my heart testifies in full agreement with yours that none of this is right.

I sit suffering in solidarity with you, here in the absolute wrongness of it all. 

I don’t come with easy, lazy platitudes about the greater plan or the silver lining or the valuable lessons of all of this hell you are now enduring. Those are things that only time can show you anyway.

Right now, at the core of it all is this simple truth: I so love you and I so hate this for you.

And because of that, I too find myself now with only tears and terrible sounds as an offering.

This is far less than what I wish to give you and much less than you deserve, but it is all that I have of worth as you suffer and wait.

And so, it is yours.













45 thoughts on “Of Tears And Terrible Sounds (When Life Is Too Painful For Words)

  1. you’ve been reading my journal. this couldn’t be better timed- guess the Lord still has his hand in my life … and strangely enough – maybe the burden can’t be shared, but the pain can. and I appreciate this piece more than you may ever realize. a special “thank you” is due on this one. and another “thank you” for you.

      • Please accept in the spirit this is given, but I’m truly sorry to hear it fits you lately. Even though they say it’s good to know you’re not alone … anyhoo, i hope things look up for you soon.

  2. Reblogged this on philcalkins and commented:
    When you know there are no words to console, share this…leave it in a card to be read after you leave…but while you are there, simply cry with them and hug them dearly. It’s your presence that matters most anyway.

  3. Thank you John. I know the sun will shine tomorrow but today God sent these words from you. My son is gay and one by one my family steps away. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. They think by saying the same old tired words that he’ll magically listen and change. They think the gay can be prayed away. All the prayers he prayed as a child were never answered. I told him God never intended to answer them. God made him that way and it’s ok. They think they are doing right. They say anyone who writes a book and shows the ridiculousness of the clobber verses is evil. Someone else will have to respond to them. This awful sadness turns to anger and I can’t change it. I can only wait and pray God will soften their hearts. But today I cry.

    • I have walked in your shoes, Lynn. Just know that your wonderful son is watching you and listening to you , and that he truly appreciates you. He will tell you so in the years to come in cards , phone calls, and visits. This too will pass.God Bless you and your son, Marci

      • I. Too have walked the same road…As a mother my prayer is people will one day realize it is not a life choice that they are predestined as to being gay as others are straight and by no way is a choice. As a Christian it fails me as to why some are born to be gay but I will never ever forsake my child! Mothers with gay children know in their hearts their child was born this way. People who bully and ridicule gays or Christains who judge them might someday be faced with the fact a child or grandchild of theirs might be gay…I pray not but you never ever know what life has in store for us!

  4. Outstanding understanding of the deep experience of grief we humans suffer in times of loss, and then to differing degrees in remembrance, as time goes by. Those words offer the most beautiful expression of sympathy I’ve ever read. Such compassion, empathy and love,, straight from one heart to another. Thank you for the words, John…

  5. My husband died in 2009….and two things I would say are: “Listen.” and “Don’t Squirm.” “Listen” – just listen to the grief, just be present. “Don’t Squirm” – Don’t squirm when the bereaved person wants to TALK about the PERSON WHO HAS DIED, IS DEAD (__NOT__ “passed on”, “departed”, etc – but ___ DEAD___), when they want to share memories, and WHEN THEY WANT TO ___CRY___ – yes, it’s uncomfortable to be around someone who is crying, but it is a precious gift you can give someone.

    Peace be upon you all……

  6. 10 years ago I was seperated from my then 7 yr. old step daughter and I was right there in the pain of my soul crying with no words to convey the pain I was enduring and the pain she had to endure… thankfully God solved our situation and I was granted full custody of this child whom my new husband and I were able to adopt legally this year! God hears our pain and knows our sorrows and he grieves with us! He also resolves that pain in his time! His perfect time!

  7. Reblogged this on bpnurse and commented:
    This is a beautifully written piece by a man I admire greatly. He is a nondenominational Christian pastor who really gets what life is all about and nails it in this post. Enjoy!

  8. I suspect Josh Duggar is experiencing some of that intense pain right now after his name was found on the Ashley Madison list (twice) yesterday. But hey, the really disturbing thing is the following article where it appears that his family is distancing itself from him.


    This is what the fundies call the “Doctrine of Separation,” which requires them to socially segregate themselves away from sinful humanity and sinful individuals—who are perceived to pose a threat to them—usually a threat to the bull doody they believe about several things. Of course, if I were stupid enough to adopt 19 children (or is it 20 something now?) and depend on a TV show for money to raise them…well…I am losing my train of thought here. Just suffice it to say that if my child had embarrassing sin problems that had a bad impact on my family, my heart could not separate myself from my child or abandon him. That does not make me better or worse than anyone else. It is simply a statement of what I could not do.

    Paranoid schizophrenia with violent tendencies? That might be another matter entirely—but having paranoid schizophrenia is thought to be a direct product of unresolved sin in Fundiedom—so they would almost certainly separate.

    Why does life have to be so complicated—and then be made worse by our religious beliefs? It often seems that the religion just adds another layer of pain.

  9. This has been me over the past 8 days. Sobbed until I can’t speak. Considered being done with the world. This doesn’t take away the pain. But, but helps to read that I am not the only person who despairs.
    Thank You

    • Someone here read about your pain, feels it albeit a different level. Give yourself permission to walk through it, to have a bad day or two or three….

      Leave it in His hands, give it all to Him.
      You are prayed for. HUGS

  10. I wish more would choose this route rather than the often painful platitudes…”this too shall pass, it all happens for a reason, etc, etc, etc.” Shush and just mourn with those who suffer. Thank you.

  11. ~~ much gratitude for the ‘raw’ human truth!! As a mental health nurse, I’ve seen and heard more than imaginable, in addition to living my own life story. Ohhhh ~ if more people knew how to just “sit’ with others … sadly, It is my perspective that people are unable to ‘sit’ with others in their raw hurt because they are unacquainted with truly sitting in their own “hurt.” How much further woundedness occurs as a result of this! ~ thanks for ‘truth’ speaking!

  12. Thank you!

    Oh how I wish I had someone in my life who just sat with me and listened while I cried and wept. I wish I didn’t have people in my life who were intent on adding condemnation to the pain by blaming me or telling me I’m wrong to be angry at the Christians who’ve broken my family into pieces.

    We’ve survived the rape of our daughter (in a pastor’s home), addictions of two kids (one of which was a runaway teen and one was homeless), visiting one child in prison and one in rehab, being kicked out of two churches (because of our rebellious kids), AND outrageous accusations and critical condemnation from the mouths of our church “family”.

    My husband and I still married (a miracle), but we’re lonely, sad, broken, and desperate for family. You’re right, there are no words, but oh how it would aid our healing to just have someone willing to listen to our cries.

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  14. thank you – i had to read this now. my husband, who i thought was the most loving, caring soulmate, best friend, best husband ever, left me suddenly for another woman and lives with her now. it’s the biggest shock of my life. some days i’m okay and i know i will get through it, but other days i feel like dying.

  15. Thank you, John. I lost my oldest daughter on 8/29. She was 52 and had been living with juvenile diabetes since she was 4 years old. She had been in a long term care facility since last September and was doing pretty well. One night, near the end of July, the nurse came to her room to check on her and found her unresponsive. Her blood sugar had dropped to 18. (This was not the first time that her blood sugar had dropped very low. It had happened many times over the years. So we were not unduly concerned this time either.) They rushed her to the hospital where she spent 5 days in ICU. By the fourth day she was breathing on her own and improving. She was transferred to an acute care hospital, where she continued to improve. Then, on Wed. 8/26 at 5:00 PM, the nurse came into her room to give K. her insulin shot before dinner. This time she was unresponsive and had no pulse. They administered CPR and rushed her back to the hospital ICU. Her blood sugar was 500. This time it was the machines keeping her body alive and tests showed very little brain activity. So…..one of the hardest decisions EVER had to be made. After her two daughters, her dad and I, her two sisters and her brother said goodbye, the machines were shut off and she went home to be with the Lord. Now her whole family is experiencing exactly what you described in your post. It is as you said – tears and terrible sounds and life is too painful for words. She will be in our hearts forever. God has blessed you with the ability to put into words what others feel in their hearts, but can’t say. May God keep giving you the wisdom and strength you need for your journey.

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