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Days of Our Lives: When the Bad News Arrives

Updated on December 11, 2015

JANUARY 1969

There was no warning. My dad was watching the “Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” one moment and dead the next. Luckily I was home from college that weekend, so I could help my mother through it, but can you really help someone through that, or prepare them for that moment…..

When the bad news arrives?

I was twenty at the time.

I don’t know how many loved ones and friends I’ve lost since. I really don’t. Probably over one-hundred easily because it’s been what, forty-six years since that January night?

And not only those I’ve lost, but the countless times I’ve been with a loved one or friend when they received life-altering news, news like I lost my job, or a brain tumor, or degenerative heart disease, or I lost my house, or my child committed suicide, or…..

I still miss him
I still miss him | Source

And Here’s the Thing

When those moments happen….when I’m faced with tragedy myself, or the tragedy of another….I don’t have the words.

I’m a writer and I don’t have one damn word.

Lord knows I’ve tried. I’ve said words but not “the words,” not the words that would somehow ease the pain….not the words that would somehow make everything all right.

I’ve said words like “I’m so sorry” and “I’ll send prayers and hugs your way.” I’ve said words like “I can’t imagine what you are feeling” and words like “Only God knows His plan,” and they all sounded then, and sound now, trite and ineffectual.

We have what, over a quarter-million words in the English language, and not one of them can communicate the sorrow, or support, that those times demand.

Not one of them!

Practice Does Not Make Perfect in This Case

I found out my sister died on Facebook. I didn’t know what to say.

I found out my son’s best friend committed suicide. I didn’t know what to say.

A good friend, in one year, lost his job, his home and his wife. I had no clue what to say.

A great friend of mine, at age forty-six, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s seven years ago and not once in those seven years have I had an inkling what to say.

And just this morning a dear friend told me she has lung cancer.

You guessed it…..I don’t know what to say.

Ordinary people being extraordinary
Ordinary people being extraordinary | Source

Oh, I’ve Written About It

It’s easy to write about it in the abstract. Most of us have done it, right? I’ve written articles about how precious life is, and how we must learn acceptance, and how much easier life is if we just come to realize we are not in control, and to live each day as if it’s your last, and go for the friggin’ gusto because you never know, you just never know, you just don’t have a chance of knowing when today will be the last day…..

And it’s all true, and it’s all trite, when the abstract becomes reality.

I spend six months, on average, writing a novel. In that novel are, again on average, about ten paragraphs that actually knock my socks off. I’m talking about paragraphs that are nearly-perfect. They are constructed beautifully with just the perfect combination of verbs, nouns, adverbs and adjectives. They are paragraphs that feed my soul and tell me I actually do have some talent.

But where is that talent when a friend, or loved one, needs my words to comfort them?

Nowhere to be found!

So, Is It Hopeless?

Here’s what I’ve learned. It took me literally decades to discover this truth and I give it to you now for free.

It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what I say in those situations.

It only matters that I care and I show that I care.

Bingo!

When my dad died, my friends tried. God how they tried, but they were as ineffectual with words as I would have been, and not one of their words has stayed with me over the decades. I don’t remember what one person said….but….I remember clearly them encircling me and giving me strength. And that’s exactly what I needed. I needed their touches. I needed their hugs. I needed their stupid attempts at humor and their sharing of memories.

I needed a human connection.

Without one word being voiced I communicated my needs and they communicated their support and love. And that made all the difference in the world at my time of mourning, and it has continued to do so over the years in similar situations.

We are human beings.

We need each other!

Comfort and support without words
Comfort and support without words | Source

To Prove a Point

The friend I just mentioned, the one who just found out she has lung cancer?

I’ve never met her.

She lives 3,000 miles away and I know her through the internet only. She wrote me this morning and said she had told her family and now she was telling me because….get this….she considers me family.

I’ve never met her, and yet she considers me family.

We are human beings.

We need each other!

I am honored that she shared her news with me. I am humbled, and I am grateful….grateful because she reached out, to me, when she needed a human connection and she allowed me to be that connection and to share my compassion and empathy.

Which is something we humans do quite well.

I Have Tears in My Eyes As I Write This

No, not for my friend. She wouldn’t want that and I respect that. I do not have tears in my eyes for my dear friend with Alzheimer's, even though it hurts something awful to watch him wither away and be powerless to stop it. No, I have tears in my eyes right now because of that human connection. At a time when horrors attack us each night on the evening news…at a time when it truly feels like the whole damned world has gone crazy….there are still ordinary people doing things that are extraordinary. There are still loving people loving…caring people caring….humans still being human.

It’s what we do best….being human.

I’m a writer and I don’t have the words.

I’m a human and I’ve got exactly what is needed.

2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • profile image

      Larry Kitzmann 17 months ago

      Exactly my friend--it's not so much the words but being there that truly matters. It's the countless little actions along with the occasional major actions that count. That is what makes us human that is what we remember in such times. Those behaviors are what keep is human and at least somewhat civilized. As always take care my friend. Oh and yes you are family for better or worse as the case may be-------

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 17 months ago from New York, New York

      Aw, Bill this couldn't have been written at a better time. One of my teacher friends from when I taught a few years back has been so very sick with stage 4 cancer. Yesterday she lost her almost 3 year battle with is leaving behind her husband and almost 4 year old daughter. I am still in shock and have been fighting back tears since I heard that she was gone. I had known she was indeed sick, but even during that time I never really could find the right words and now I am struggling even more to put into words how badly I feel especially for her little girl. You are right we are indeed writers, but sometimes in times like these there are just no words and just have to except it as much as we don't want to. Thanks Bill for that reminder here today.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Larry, I'll gladly be a part of your family...for better...there ain't no worse, buddy. Thank you and Happy Weekend to you...work off some of that excess energy why don't ya? :)

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      Old Poolman 17 months ago

      Billy - You have touched on the anguish we all experience during our lives at the loss of a friend or loved one. I was glad to learn that I am not the only one who just doesn't know what to say at these times. I think sometimes just a hug, a touch, or a nod says more than words can ever say.

      As we get older this is something we face far more often than we would like, and it will never get any easier.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, I'm sorry for your loss...sorry you are left with feelings of inadequacy, as we all are during those times. I have no doubt your friendship meant a great deal to your friend....thank you for sharing that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      No, Mike, you are not alone and no, it never gets easier. We've lost a lot of them, haven't we? Have you ever wondered "why me?" Why am I still standing and they aren't? I think those questions are better saved for a campfire and a bottle of Jack. :) Thanks my friend.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 17 months ago from Dubai

      There are no words to soothe or comfort when the bad news comes, one thing as you say that we can do being there for them. Sad that your friend has lung cancer too, we can all pray. Prayers work miracles.

    • bizarrett81 profile image

      bizarrett81 17 months ago from Maine

      This is wonderful. There are usually no words for those tragic times. I've experienced this recently with the loss of my boyfriend's grandfather. He was his best friend and he has been heartbroken. Every time i sat next to him while he wept i wished i had something beautiful to say, but nothing would come.

      So I just sat with him, cried with him, and held his hand. I just held that hand all through the week, through the funeral home visit, through the funeral. We lay in bed together, arms wrapped around each other, and just cried together.

      Like you said, I think that's all you can do and I know it meant a lot to him to have me there, judging by how tightly he held me back.

      Sometimes, words aren't necessary, but your presence as support is.

      I'm sorry for all your losses and for your friend. I wish humans didn't have to suffer but I guess that's the cruel joke of the cosmos we must all deal with.

      Thanks for being a good friend and man, Bill

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 17 months ago from SW England

      You're absolutely right. Being there for someone, showing you care with deeds and the odd word and, sometimes the most important, listening; those are all essential communications.

      I have found that often it's the matter-of-fact questions that help others, like 'what happens now?' what options do you have? do you need help with anything practical?' It takes the emotion away if we concentrate on the practical.

      I also find that it's often the person who's affected who is able to deal with it better than I can; somehow many people pull strength from somewhere, be it faith or sheer willpower.

      But, yes, we feel inadequate when we need the words and they aren't there, especially when, as writers, we think we should be able to find them.

      Being human and showing our love and compassion is the best we can do and, as you say, that's what the sufferers hold on to.

      I'm not surprised that person sees you as family, bill; you are such a supportive person here and popular with thousands - who wouldn't want you as part of the family?!

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your thoughts, Vellur! The power of prayer!!!! What can it hurt, right?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz, you just described, perfectly, the human connection and what we are so good at doing. Never underestimate the power of being held and comforted through touch. Your boyfriend is a lucky man.

      Thank you for the kind words.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I like your point about matter-of-fact questions....and you are absolutely right, it is often the person who's affected who handles it the best. We humans are strong creatures...we can persevere....often all we need is to know we are not alone.

      Thank you dear friend.

      bill

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 17 months ago from The Beautiful South

      It really is true, when these bad things happen all we can do is be there for there are no words, just a time it takes for acceptance and helping them through. You are no doubt a friend and comfort to many you will never meet, Bill.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 17 months ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Yes, this feeling of wanting to soothe the pain with our words is common and sometimes when tragedy occurs no amount of words seem to hold the weight to relieve the pain.

      You are right, Bill, it is the connection that has the weight, the fortitude the love to ease the pain, grief and loss.

      When my mom died, an old friend I haven’t seen in years drove 8 hours to be at her funeral. I don’t remember what he said, probably, “I’m sorry for your loss.” I will always remember, though, looking across the room and seeing him in the doorway. And my feeling of grief and despair changed just by his presence and support during that time.

      Thank you for this very honest and heartfelt hub.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 17 months ago from Norfolk

      Hi Billy

      That is a sad news indeed about your friend but knowing you make a difference in her life is as special for her as you are to me and to so many people all over the world. Sometimes words don't cut it, you being there is all that matters.

      Sally

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I try to be, Jackie, but will always feel like I fall woefully short. Thank you so much.

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Carly, my goodness, long time no see. Thank you for stopping by. Your pic looks great and I hope you are happy.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Sally. Thank you for your kindness and friendship. I cherish my online friends and I'm glad you are in my life.

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 17 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Bill, we are all the same. We never know what to say. Just knowing you cared was the best you can do. When we're hurting really bad from losing someone we loved there are no words that soothe and take the sting away. My only way of healing is the faith I have that I will see them again in heaven. We are a band of brothers and sisters on Hub Pages and we do care. Hugs..

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      We do care for sure, Ruby! You said it perfectly. Oh sure, there are some on HP just there to write and rack up views, but I love the group I've come to know as friends and family, all members of the writing brotherhood. Thank you, my dear friend.

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      Ruchira Khanna 17 months ago

      Gee I don't have words right now but am just filled with gratitude that she has you as a friend.

      My prayers go out to her and her family and a virtual hug to you to be considerate and lending her an ear. No one has the time to do that, these days!

      Happy Friday and may the clouds blow away and bring sunshine!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 17 months ago from Oklahoma

      I know when I'm there when bad news comes I never have the words. Everything I might say seems hackneyed or insignificant in light of the weight of things.

      I just choose to be there and to hold and to help with whatever I can.

      Loved the article.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Friday Ruchira and thank you! Virtual hugs are powerful and I thank you for them.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Larry! I like your approach....you are a good man.

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 17 months ago from Europe

      Love this article, my friend. More words unnecessary, just a big virtual hug.

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      Linda Lum 17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.

      The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 17 months ago from England

      I totally agree with you Bill, there are no words but only hugs and love, this is wonderful, sad and poignant, we all feel this, and boy has it been hard, I think all of the online writers whatever site we are on all feel like family, and thats wonderful, nell

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Buildreps, I'll take a big virtual hug any old day. Thank you sir!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I had tears in my eyes reading your comment. Thank you for sharing that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Nell....sweet melancholy...that's what it feels like. Thank you so much.

    • profile image

      breakfastpop 17 months ago

      There really are no words. A hug and a squeeze of the hand speak volumes.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      They do for sure, Pop! Thank you!

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 17 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      Such a beautiful write Bill. You know, sometimes when tragedy strikes just saying , "There are no words," with tears in your eyes or with a hug is the most comforting or helpful words. We often say stupid hurtful things because we dont know what to say. We feel the need to explain it in an effort to comfort the person and ourselves. Thats when our senses and sensitivities leave us. We make "at least" statements, or syrupy sentiments like God just neefed another angel. In times of tragedy people need our quiiet love and care.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Perfectly stated, Lori! Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope with us.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 17 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Timeless message. Thank you, so very much, for sharing, today! ;-)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 17 months ago from USA

      Sometimes it's just being there, just being present.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      Nancy Mitchell 17 months ago from Bend, OR

      Well said, Bill. I get frustrated at people who criticize others who say the "wrong" thing. Give them a break...unless they tried! What about those cowards who say nothing and just back away when tragedy strikes because that's easier? I admire those who risk saying the wrong thing but, as you wrote, the best thing to do is just be there -- with words or without.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Bill. Thank you very much.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Flourish. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you letstalk....I know some of those people you mentioned, the ones who back away and do nothing.....I"ll take my chances and always make sure I say and do something.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 17 months ago from Queensland Australia

      It is sad to hear news like that from a friend Bill. I imagine you felt stunned and helpless. I have personal experience with having lost friends and loved ones...too many..and like you have always struggled with the right words. It is easy to write about it after the fact when you can sit and think and choose the right words to put on paper or a computer screen, but in person..no way.

      In the past if I was with someone who was at death's door or found out they had cancer or other bad prognosis I would try to talk about anything else...sport, current news items, some other common interest to help take their mind off what they were going through. But the truth is this never works. How can you take their mind off it? And all this conversation just seems like a smoke screen.

      A couple of months ago a friend told me he had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. Well, we sat down and discussed it openly, about how he used to smoke but gave it away 2o years ago. He said how he had read that changing to a raw food diet could help beat cancer and that he was going to purchase a special food blender to help in this (he was already vegetarian so it wasn't going to be a huge change).

      The point is, we openly talked about his disease...how it would effect his new wife and one year old child etc...and the conversation flowed easily and didn't feel false.

      To cut a long story short, he told me he was going to the city for tests and would see me in a week or so. I never saw Andrew again...he died one month after being diagnosed.

      You are right, the best you can do is be there and show you care...your words aren't important. But if you must find something to say, be upfront and discuss what they are going through...don't feel awkward or embarrassed.

      This hub may not be your greatest literary masterpiece Bill, but it is one of my favourites with a message that will stay with me.

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 17 months ago from Long Island, New York

      Billy, I like you and everyone else in this community have feelings towards another human being. That is if we are at all somewhat human ourselves. As I read your piece this evening - tears filled my own eyes as well.

      And for not only feeling that so called human connection and being a human being who cares about others well being. But mainly because like you, losing your Dad at the young age of 20. I recently lost my Dad of 86 years on December 1st, which was just 10 days ago. And you know - I already miss him very much.

      What hurts the worst emotionally for me, is that I wasn't there to say goodbye to him for one final time and to tell him how much I really loved and respected him, for who he was. And you know something also - it hurts deep down side, no matter what age you are when you lose a family member or close friend.

      Thank you for sharing an emotional but heart warming story with all of us within the community. And my sincerest condolences on the untimely passing of your own Dad when you were a youngster.

      I now can relate with you through this human connection, that brings all the world so much closer to one another, when unforeseen events like this occur. Best wishes to you and yours for a happier holiday season.

      Jim

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 17 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      There is some wonderful advice in this hub, Bill. I think you have said exactly what needs to be said. Caring for people in trouble and showing them that we care is very important, even if we can't find the right words to say.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 17 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Life is full of so many sad moments and bitter events taking place. We can do nothing but utter some consoling words. Even uttering some words is very difficult for some people like me. We are helpless. I lso my mother at the age of 14 or 15 in 1966 and I even do not remember her face. And lost father in 1971. Now wife in 2012. We have to bear all these things and recover. Presence of friends and relatives gives us some support. But we have to recover on our own. I am very proud of you having such tender feelings at your friends. God bless you.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 17 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I was gripped by your piece of work. Sometimes people just need that someone there to help them through such moments.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 17 months ago from london

      A truly heartfelt piece, and I felt like crying too. I'm close, Bro, close. Please send her my Love. She can write if she wishes to. There is a book I give to cancer patients that they all like, so far. It's by a Joseph Murphy, I believe. Obtainable on the internet. Something to do with suggestion and the power of the subconscious Mind. Wish your friend God's blessings for me.

      A truly poignant piece and written with much conviction. God bless you, Bro.

    • Aliswell profile image

      Aliswell 17 months ago from Iowa

      What I am always amazed at with your posts Bill, as in this most poignant description of human death and condolences to those closest to the departed ones...Is your ability to first of all, write with extreme accolades of your craft, but also to draw together all us Hubbers from the 4, 6, or whatever corners of the earth.

      I gain so much from you through reading your original submissions, and certainly not to be undervalued, your follower's responses to your submissions... I just...well, just want to Know..."How the Hell do you keep doing it Bill"??????

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      John, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I believe in your approach. One does not run and hide from bad news of this sort...we can't pretend it isn't happening....people need honesty and they need to share the good and the bad. Yes, I like your approach very much.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Jim, it's good to see you again. Thank you so much. The nicest thing you could have said to me was that tears filled your eyes while reading this. That is what I seek in my writings...the human connection. Shared experiences and shared emotions about those experiences. Thank you for the confirmation, and Happy Holidays to you, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      The power of human touch, Alicia...the power of love....the power of showing that we care...so important.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      God bless you, Venkatachari M, and thank you for sharing your pain and thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Very, very true, DDE! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Manatita! I'm sure she read your response. God bless you, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Allen, to answer your final question....I don't know. This stuff is in me and it needs to be let out. I'm so happy I found the words and the ability to share them in such a way that touches others. Thank you so much for your very kind words.

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      Audrey Selig 17 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Bill - I do not like bad news but it is everywhere now. Much illness abounds. I do not even like to watch the news. However, many friends on FB have notified me of such news, and I always give them Internet hugs and tell them I am thinking of them. My feeling is that anything that makes them know you care and are there for them as a human being is important. You are right that the human element is the important aspect. I love Internet hugs, and here is one for you for caring to write about this issue and a second hug about your friend who loves you. Sharing. Blessings, Audrey

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen Szklany Gault 17 months ago from New England

      Such a great hub about "being there." A member of our co-housing community just passed away on Thursday. Many brave souls have been there for her as she suffered through the throes of brain cancer. Between us, we are keeping 24 hour vigil with her husband. In our time together we've talked about how we take care of each other in community. There's so much to learn with each experience!

    • alison monroe profile image

      Alison Monroe 17 months ago

      Very well said, indeed.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 17 months ago from south Florida

      I completely agree, Bill, with the sentiments you have expressed in this thoughtful piece. Although we may not know exactly what to say or how to say it when bad news comes, we can offer solace with our presence, our friendship and our comforting touch.

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      Shauna L Bowling 17 months ago from Central Florida

      You don't know how many times I've said, "I'm a writer and I can't find the words." The fact is, sometimes it's not words that are needed, but gestures or simply being there, silently.

      My son lost his dad in January also - January 25, 2007. He and I were with him until the end, although we were divorced and I was remarried. There are no words to explain (or soothe) the gut-wrenching pain of grief. The sobbing that overtakes the body. The sadness that pours forth from every pore. No one knows how that feels unless they've been there.

      You know what soothed me and my son? Family. My brother stopped what he was doing (training a kicker who is now in the pros) to drive up from South Florida to spend a few hours with his only nephew. My ex's dad and one of his brothers flew out from Montana to go through his things. On the Saturday morning - just hours after Montana died - my brother and my son's paternal grandfather were in the same room at the same time. Why is that important? Because my son was named after both of them. It was very comforting to have them with us and I stated so. Neither my ex-father-in-law, nor my brother knew that each was the inspiration for the name we gave our son.

      We had coffee together. We laughed. We cried. And we knew we were loved. We knew we all loved my son's father. And we knew Montana was at peace and smiling at us from above. Family brought peace to our emotional being. Love is what held us together and got us through.

      You can't touch it. You can't see it. But the powerful feeling of love will and does get us through the most painful times in our lives.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Audrey, thank you for the hug, my friend. It is always appreciated, and on this cold, rainy winter's day, it gives my spirit warmth

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mama, I love that.....taking care of each other. Well done. Thank you for sharing that moving experience.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Alison!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That is what we do, drbj.....we provide comfort simply by being there. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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      Jaye Denman 17 months ago from Deep South, USA

      You nailed it, Bill. No one can say the "right" words to someone who is devastated. This is a universal problem. Being there . . . being available . . . showing that you really care . . . giving hugs--those are the things that do help. Tragedy makes words less important and the human connection more so.

      Great hub! Since the feedback ratings are gone, I'll just say "Five-star!"

      Jaye

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      Michael Milec 17 months ago

      Bill my friend, we do realize much later how 'normal' we are in those 'shocking' moments being speechless . When dearest and closest person in our life suddenly , unexpectedly leaves , we do not have words to say to those who are left behind because our thoughts and our words are toward the person not here anymore an we didn't finish our conversation, our plans being / accomplishing together. We have much to say, but not to those around us. I was studying Michael earlier in my life, why am I becoming numb, no right words were coming and I didn't want to repeat everybody else's polite expressions... Then I realized that words do not matter as does mere presence , being close, being together " showing our love and compassion " as you have sad it and there are many ways to unload a burden of those in greater need then us. I have found , giving an ear in many cases is more effective then " my " talk. Those are the moments of soul-searching, soul- cleaning and hope giving... We focus on life and its future having vision for ongoing ever... With a hug and a smile we do part with " until we meet again."

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      Bill De Giulio 17 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. We are social beings and in our times of need it is comforting for us to know that others are there for us. I think we all feel helpless and unable to find the right words to comfort others but just being there is what helps the most. The older we get the more bad news we seem to face and the human connection becomes so important. Great message. Have a great Sunday.

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      Dora Isaac Weithers 17 months ago from The Caribbean

      Missed this one! Your article describes the situation every feeling heart goes through. Bless you for putting it into words so very well.

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      Eric Dierker 17 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      You do real well Bill. And you do real good. I will remember this one for when the time comes. Perhaps I can pass on your message of love to another. That would be a comforting thing.

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I've got absolutely nothing to add to your comment. It's beautiful and perfect just as is. Thank you, my friend. Hugs and blessings coming your way.

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Jaye, it's always nice to see you. Thank you for your input..I hope you are well.

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, as always, you said a great deal very simply....giving an ear in many cases is more effective than my talk...that is such an important truth....just be there to listen to those who are grieving.

      Thank you and blessings always

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, thank you! The bad news has slowed considerably for me. I'm sure there is more on the way, but I'm much better equipped to handle it now.

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dora! You didn't miss it. You are right on time. :)

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That would be comforting for sure, Eric, and the circle of life will continue...thanks my friend.

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      Mary Craig 17 months ago from New York

      I recently told you in an email, "you are a writer", here you prove it again. You totally touch the heart of the matter, sometimes there are no words. Knowing your friends and family are there for you helps fill the void that has been created by this horrible disease. Knowing that friends you've met on Hubpages care as much as friends you've met in the neighborhood warms your heart as you've always held them dear. Love and friendship are what needs to be offered, and you offer it so willingly and openly.

      I am deeply touched by this beautiful tribute.

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mary! I lost my mother and sister both to cancer. I had no words then.....only heartfelt emotion and love for all who suffer from it.

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      Paula 17 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Bro...Through my tears as well, I want to say how much it means that you express what I too am experiencing (& have so many times). I was honored with the same "like family" message of news that knocked me off my feet.

      Through the years & tears of these continual moments of stunning emotional shock, we do learn. We learn that our presence, love & "connection" is truly all that is needed. It is not per chance that this is most vital at the same time it is what we're able to express.

      In the film, "Creator," there is an incredibly powerful scene. The character played by Peter O'Toole, walks along the sands of a shoreline with a young man (Vincent Spano) who has just learned of his father's death. The professor (O'Toole) steadfastly walks by the young man's side, hands in his pockets & "listening" to the grief-stricken ramblings of the young student. For what seems like forever, they then walk in utter silence until O'Toole embraces his student and lets him sob. That's all. The Professor says nothing yet this scene has the power to leave it's viewers in emotional collapse.

      Amen Bro....We are there for our Tillie.......No doubt. Love, Sis

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      No doubt at all, Sis! No matter how much bad news I receive, I never grow accustomed to it and hope I never will. All any of us can do is what O'Toole did in that scene you described...be there, listen and support.

      Amen my Sis....you are a jewel.

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      Surabhi Kaura 17 months ago

      Hi Bill,

      I… I… I have no words to express during such junctures of life. How cruel is life at times I wonder!

      This hub of yours really brought tears to my eyes. Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. Only the one who bears the pain, knows how painfully the Soul cries. But you actually felt your friend’s pain irrespective of the fact that you are miles away from her. I bow before you with reverence. We are humans, and sometimes, we are only concerned with our family members; our near and dear ones. At times of trials, tribulations and despair, we can do anything for them… anything! Imagine – when we connect to a stranger, who considers us as part of their family and vice-versa. In this virtual world, we come across a lot of kind Hearts and noble Souls. Some of them leave a positive impact on us; in our life as a whole, and we become addictive to them. Well, not sure if ‘addictive’ is a right word to use here, but yes, we sincerely sow the seeds of compassion for them in the depths of our Heart. And, one day, when that one kind Heart and that same noble Soul says that they are going through rough days in terms of serious health issues, we can then really step into their shoes and feel their pain. I hope and pray for your friend’s good health.

      I can feel the tears in your eyes. I can feel your pain for your friend. You are a one genuine Soul. A few days ago, I was informed about my cousin who lives in India, that she has a bone-marrow cancer. I cried like a baby then, even though I have never met her as I was a kid when I came to Canada. So I made a telephone call to her and we talked over the phone. She was giggling, laughing and cherishing each and every moment throughout the conversation. It taught me a great lesson. Just like a flower knows that it’s not going to live for too long, the flower makes all the effort to spread its aroma and to bring joy to our eyes. We should always be like fragrant flowers.

      But, yea… very few people… very few ones have a Heart like you. Treasure your Heart. You are a kind Soul. I am thankful to meet you. Much love to you… much. God bless you. Om Shanti. (Peace...Peace...)

      Surabhi

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Surabhi, you are a writer. Of that I have no doubt. Only a writer, with the gift of introspection, could write a comment as you just wrote. That was simply beautiful. I am humbled by your words....honored as well. I do not feel a specialness about me. Allow me to explain. I am a human being. As such, I believe I am a herd animal. The herd remains strong and healthy as long as each member looks out of all other members. It is a group effort and survival is the goal....but from that base goal comes so much more. Humans can derive great joy from sharing with each other...the joys and the pains of life are meant to be shared....and from that sharing comes community and all the rewards community gives.

      And so I care....and I love....and I hope, in the end, that will be enough.

      Peace, young lady, and thank you!

      bill

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      Genna East 17 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      How true; finding the right words is so difficult -- if not impossible -- and we often feel so bereft for the loss of the words we use each and every day. Being there, and letting that person know that we are, willing to help, to listen, to give the warmth of touch or heart means so much. I firmly believe that sending healing, loving thoughts and prayers also helps.

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I do too, Genna. There is strength in numbers and healing in touch....and love is the best medicine known to man. Thank you for your thoughts.

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      Deb Hirt 17 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Clearly as a human being, it shows just that: we are unable to convey anything but support in those times of need. We are all affected in the same manner. We all all, simply, just people, right down to the blood, the bone, the nitty-gritty. Now, why can't we be just like that for people that are trying so hard to escape torture?

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't know the answer to your question, Deb. I wish I did...I wish I could instill compassion in the hearts of millions who would deny those immigrants.

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      Frank Atanacio 17 months ago from Shelton

      I think no one can say the right thing when something tragic happens.. I don't say anything.. my friend lost his son .. I held him and cried when he cried.. then his wife held us both ( It was his 2nd wife.. he lost his first years back ) and we group hugged.. Compassion is key.. I think and the virtual friend probably felt the compassion you have deep within you. Maybe you didn't have to know her.. but your words nonetheless say compassion... this was a very good private share and as friends we welcome it.. bless you my virtual friend

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Frank, thank you for sharing that, and you are right on...compassion is the key. Merry Christmas, buddy!

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      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 17 months ago from United Kingdom

      This is lovely, Bill. Thanks for finding the right words for this. Merry Christmas.

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome, Zulma. I think we all can relate to this story, and I'm so happy everyone is enjoying it.

      Merry Christmas again, my friend.

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      Missy Smith 17 months ago from Florida

      Wow! I don't know if I have the words to describe my feelings on this one. You brilliantly lay the truth out there to us. Life is not promised, and when these types of tragedies happens to others, simply there are no words. It is quite strange to know that, when all you are used to doing is writing words, isn't it?

      So many sad things you have been either witness to or have known about. And I thought my life had seen many a tragedy!

      I'm sorry for your friend with Alzheimer's. He was so young for such a daunting diagnosis. I mean all you can do is just be there. No words can make that go away or feel better.

      That is the important message here for everyone. Don't try so hard to express things with words, the human condition needs human compassion that sometimes only a strongly spoken hug can give.

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Missy, thank you! Bottom line is your last observation...just be there for the bereaved. That's all we really can do....is be human.

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      CrisSp 17 months ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      I don't know what to say Bill because I am actually in some kind of tough situations too these days but I will remember the wisdoms (especially to keep that human connections) and will take the inspirations from this hub.

      I hope you had a great holiday Bill and wishing you and yours a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

      Love from the sky~

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Cris, and I'm sorry you are in some tough situations now. Hoping that 2016 brings peace of mind to you and the many others who are struggling. Happy New Year my friend.

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      Smilealot 17 months ago

      Well said Bill, whatever else we perceive ourselves to be, we are after all simply human beings who need each other.

      As you correctly say, as powerful as words can be, they can sometimes be either not enough or be of no value anymore, particularly in the case of Alzheimer's, when the sufferer still feels and needs the connection but the words have become difficult. A very Happy New Year to you and your family:-))

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Smilealot....and a very Happy New Year to you and yours.

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      Glimmer Twin Fan 17 months ago

      Wow Bill - This was powerful for me. Especially as my parents are aging quickly. I'm not usually one for lots of human connections, but at certain times we do all need each other. I forget that sometimes. Thanks for the reminder.

      On another note, Happy New Year. I had a major email fail a little while ago, and all of my emails were lost, including all notifications of new HP hubs. Sadly I missed a bunch of hubs to read and comment on. My apologies. Hope you and your family are well this new year.

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      No apologies necessary, Glimmer. Thank you and Happy New Year to you. Hug those parents of yours the next chance you get. I miss mine terribly.

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      Mr Archer 17 months ago from Missouri

      Bill, few if ever are the times we have the words, the perfect words to say when the time is there to say them. Far more often we wallow, we squirm, we fall back on "I'm so sorry" and though those words are true, they fall far short of conveying comfort or our true feelings. Far more often the words simply won't come.

      Your words come at a time when I needed something this morning. Check your inbox in a bit to have it explained. Until then, love to you and Bev. Mike

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      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, thank you for telling me that. I think it's so important for all writers to understand the power of their words.

      blessings to you and yours, my friend

      bill

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      Kathleen Kerswig 16 months ago

      I related to so much of what you wrote here. I have learned that it is okay to say "I don't know what to say". People appreciate the authenticity of that statement. They will open up to the love I am sharing with them and the bond becomes stronger. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Bill. Blessings!

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      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Kathleen, what a lovely surprise. Thank you and blessings to you. On my four year anniversary at HP, one of my original followers shows up out of the blue...great surprise!

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      Kathleen Kerswig 16 months ago

      I'm so glad it was a pleasant surprise. Life has been filled with wonderful blessings that continue to keep my busy. I hope to be in touch a little bit more often. Happy 2016 my friend!

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      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I look forward to it, Kathleen. Thank you again and Happy New Year.

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      Rajan Singh Jolly 16 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      You are right, Bill. No words are enough or just right. A silent hug is just the right thing to do and convey one's feelings.

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      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your thoughts, Rajan. I appreciate it, my friend.

      blessings always

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