Why I can’t craft comforting messages? (And stick to ‘My condolences’?)


Death and loss.

Bad news registers to my head.

And that’s it.


A really frail woman died last, last month. She was my grandma, my grandpa’s sister. We went to the wake twice. My mom’s quite good in the comforting department. I am a different story. I only knew how to behave, to sit still, to wear this solemn look. My curiosity urged me to look at the coffin, to remember. But memories don’t come. Because what sits at the face of this mortal end is a sleeping figure.

The second attendance took place in my mom’s province. To help the preparation, we sweep and mop the floors. It’s not a big thing because a corpse couldn’t care about cleanliness. The bleary lights of some artificial candelabra winked at me. The superstitions would come. And then the reunion took place. My lolo (grandpa) and lola (grandma) came close to the coffin to see their sister.

IT’S a heartbreaking scene. I didn’t expect it to move me (I was thinking tough, I guess). Even now, reminiscing and putting this recollection to words makes it all the most heart-wrenching. I didn’t knew grief that much. But I felt it: it was difficult for my frail lolo and lola.

I don’t have to look at their faces to see the tears. I didn’t have to hear them wail to know they’re in pain. I just have to look away and remind myself: this is death. Nothing about it is poetic.



Weeks passed and a bad news came. My high school classmate’s four year tot passed away. The shock was odd. Most days, I’d see her FB posts and click ‘Like’ because I found their pictures together cute and cool and everything motherhood could have been.

The kid got ill. He didn’t make it. Another death unfolding in front of my well-constructed wall.


At the face of these intimate losses, I figured out something: death is straightforward. When you die, you cease to exist. Nothing more, nothing less. But loss… it’s a whole different sullen concept. It’s an experience, a reminder, and awful kind at that. It tests you — your faith, your belief system, your you.

When the Pope came to visit Yolanda victims, I remember his sincere offering: silence. It was humble of him to acknowledge the lack of words for these victims. Perhaps, its because I often find everyone to avoid offering this same thing. When our lola and my friend’s kid went, words came outpouring. Some pieced out sincere messages. The keywords consisted of “God’s will”, “there is a reason”, et cetera.

I couldn’t bring myself to say or type those words, too.

It’s painful. And words that do heal may not really come from me.



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