Why do we hear those who are suffering and in pain often say they feel deserted and so alone? The truth of the matter is --it is really - really difficult to stand by and see our loved ones devastated. We feel so helpless knowing there is not one thing in this world we can do to alleviate their pain. We are grossly uncomfortable and at a loss as to how we should help. There is not one thing we can do. Add to that our "survivor's guilt," and immense relief that this didn't happen to us and we have the perfect storm of wanting to turn tail and run.
Here is all you need to know--our presence is all that is required. A listening ear--a shoulder to cry on--an abiding presence is all we can do. That is enough. Especially when it is difficult---our presence is needed---required---mandated. Though we can do nothing to lessen the pain--we can stand by their side--and sometimes that is enough. Knowing someone cares---someone is willing to be uncomfortable with our suffering---someone is courageous enough to subject themselves to great discomfort with their inability to help--that goes a LONG way.
So don't turn and run--stand firm. Don't avoid the subject--there is no avoiding the elephant in the room. Don't give them space--do give them time. When the world is at its worst--the love of another can be the bridge to hope. Being willing to walk beside them as they trek the path of grief speaks volumes of how much we care for them. Especially when it is difficult--stand firm and be a consistent presence.