Friday, August 22, 2014


Sorry. Defined by google as 1. feeling distress, especially through sympathy with someone else's misfortune. Also known as sad, unhappy, sorrowful, distressed, upset, downcast, dishearted, despondent, heartbroken, inconsolable, grief-stricken, sympathetic, compassionate, concerned, regretful, remorseful, apologetic, ashamed. 2. in a poor or pitiful state or condition. Also known as pitiful, distressing.
Sorry. Defined by as 1. Feeling regret, sympathy, pity. 2. Regrettable, unfortunate, tragic. 3. Sorrowful, grieved, sad.

There are many uses and definitions of the word ‘sorry.’ Google’s first definition comes from two perspectives. One from a person who is hurt and the other from a second party. The one I have heard a lot lately is the one used for sympathy and sorrow coming from a second party to someone who is hurt. I know it is meant to be a serious word, but it is also one that is used so often and loses its meaning. Even when people are serious when they say it, if it has been over used prior to them, it lowers the reception of the depth of the feelings.

As lines of people passed by, giving their regrets, condolences, and hugs, the word started meaning less and less. It actually started getting annoying when people said it. After two hours of greetings and a one hour service, the condolence that meant the most to me involved no words at all. It was eye to eye contact, both sets of eyes holding back tears. Her eyes not even knowing the person who had died. Only there to be my support. The only thoughts going through my mind were, “I knew you’d come,” and “I’m glad you came.” Then it wasn’t just an arm around the shoulder 2 second hug. It was a full embrace, by both parties. I squeezed, because I knew she wouldn’t mind. It felt good. I realized she was squeezing back, and not letting go. She was giving this hug for me, and would hold it until I ended it. It was the best, tightest, longest, most comforting hug I had received all week. My best 10 seconds of the week. I knew she was sorry for my loss, having been close to being in a similar position herself recently. But she didn’t say anything. She saw a physical need and filled it, which in turn, filled an emotional/spiritual need. That’s what ‘sorry’ means. Using the words from above, it means being concerned, compassionate, and sympathetic. But it also means knowing when and how to use those feelings. Put them into action. What action are you going to take now that you feel sorry?

The pastor, that Saturday morning, when I found out that my grampa had died, said that, as Christians, we should not say the phrase, “Let me now if there is anything I can do.” We should cook for that person and bring it over. My thoughts, we don’t know what we need in times of sorrow, we just know we need. It really didn’t fit into this friend’s schedule to come to the funeral. And I told her she didn’t have to because I didn’t want to put more into her busy schedule. But that’s how she showed her love and concern. She saw a need, that although not convenient for her, she could fill. And she did. And she blessed more than just me. My family and others at the service greatly appreciated that she came. Other friends said the ‘anything I can do’ phrase but they also gave suggestions. One told me to let her know if work got to be too much and I had to come home early and didn’t think I could drive myself. She didn’t care that she lives a half hour away and it would have been the middle of the night. Another friend offered her place to stay if I ended up being back at my apartment by myself. I didn’t end of taking either of these friends up on their offers but it was good to know that the options were there. They weren’t options I had to come up with or think of someone to let them know what I needed something.

The other phrase that the pastor said that we should never say to anyone is, “I know what you’re going through.” But earlier in the sermon, he himself said it! He said that he lost his son in a car accident 3 years ago. I tried not to get upset at him as I compared our situations. Christian son died 3 years ago in a car accident vs. non Christian grandfather died of a heart attack two hours ago. No matter my relationship with my grandfather, those situations are in no way the same. Understand that no feelings were very strong at that point, but I resisted raising my hand and saying, “But your son was a Christian!” But I didn’t really want to hear the response. My friend who came to the funeral had more right to use that phrase of knowing what I was going through. Her grandfather has been in and out of hospitals for a year now, not sure from one day to the next, not sure if a procedure will be too much for his body. At least in this case, the similarities would be the timing, grandfather, and heart condition. But even in her case, her grandfather is Christian. She realized that that was the issue that mattered to me. She saw that our situations were Not the same, and that’s how she addressed it: a SIMILAR situation, but she didn’t stop there. When I shared my feelings with her, she did not use that popular saying. Her response was what comforted her when her non-Christian aunt died. There were other details that didn’t play a part in her situation. No two situations will ever be exactly the same. Which is why the phrase, “I know what you’re going through” should never be used.

That is my reflection on the word ‘sorry.’ Words mean a lot and some require physical action. Sometimes the word doesn’t even need to be said in order to be understood. And sometimes words are best left unsaid in general.


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