“Touch is far more essential than our other senses. … It’s ten times stronger than verbal or emotional contact.”
— Saul Schanberg in A Natural History of the Senses
Grief can be a very lonely experience. Some who are grieving prefer to be alone with their grief, while others are inclined to reach out for support and comfort.
Those trying to comfort someone grieving face similar issues as well. We often don’t know what to say, what to do, how best to comfort our friend or family member who is grieving the loss of a child.
I tend to throw myself into activity after a loss. When I lost my grandson, I threw myself into helping make his arrangements and provide meals for my son and his family. I knew I didn’t yet have the words to express my feelings for the profound sense of loss I felt.
I don’t consider myself a very tactile person, but I’ve discovered the power of touch. It has often sustained me in times of loss or difficulty. I remember visiting my dad two weeks before he passed away. My husband snapped a picture of me holding his hand. I treasure this photo as my last memory of him. Whenever I see it, I think of his love for me and feel his presence. I also remember placing my hand on my grandson Liam at the funeral home. I felt a deep sense of connection and also felt the presence of this angel. I recall telling my Weight Watchers leader about the loss of my grandson. I’ll never forget her coming out behind the counter to embrace me the first meeting I attended after his loss. I was truly touched by her show of compassion.
These touches helped me feel loved, cared for, and understood. Touching others has helped me show love, care, and understanding to others who are grieving. Yes, our words may fail us, but a simple touch or hug is worth a thousand words.
Deborah experienced the loss of her grandson, Liam, in January of 2019. She has two grown children, both adopted, and two grandchildren. Deborah lives with her husband, Keith, and dog, Kovu. Now that she is retired Deborah volunteers with several heart-health focused organizations. She is the author of the book “A Journey of the Heart: Learning to Thrive, Not Just Survive, With Congenital Heart Disease.