Photo credit: Deirdre Prins- Solani / Cape Town

Silence & Silences around death

 I have been pondering the subject of silence around death and the silences that come with it. I wonder, is it ever truly silent? Can the silence be organic or created? The answer to both these questions is a yes & a no. What I do know, is there is a different quality to the silence that surrounds a loss. It is not comfortable in the beginning, as any silence is hardly ever comfortable. One struggles to sit with it and be at ease.

It’s as thou even society at large understands this silence and buys into it. Death or a loss is spoken of in hushed tones and mournful expressions, if spoken about at all. At times we lose the language of it completely and in those instances, gestures which are primarily meant as a source of comfort, are often the substitute.  For some of us, even these gesture which are meant with a great degree of empathy, can be distressing. 


My struggle with the silence  seems to always catch me by surprise, especially when I’m doing an activity that I would have shared with my loved one. Often I would find myself turning to say something to them, only to be met by the silence and a new realisation that they have gone. With that realization, a deep breath, and few moments to readjust and continue with the journey is all I can do. 

At other times when I’m in that silence, I choose to sit and listen to it and find what comfort I may and instead of sitting there painfully aware of my loss, I use the moment to quietly reflect on the gifts that they have left for me in my own journey of life.
I do know that even the silence is not really ever silent. It is filled with it’s own humming vibrations and within it there is what I call a “pause moment”, a quiet space to exhale and be.  These “pause moments” of silence and the silences can be seen as a gift, to stay awhile and rejuvenate for the next leg of the journey.

Some of the things I have found to be helpful when I’m in that space are:
1. To breathe in and out so to not feel overwhelmed by the emotion that sometimes surfaces
2. I imagine that they are there and have the conversation as I would have ( this is very much like talking to yourself, except in that moment you imagine the other person there). You might feel silly in the beginning, but it does help.
3. Use the silence as my meditation space by quieting my mind to any distracting thoughts or sounds and simply be in that moment.

As with any journey of loss, it is important to remember that it’s ongoing and to treat those in that situation with compassion. No  single day is the same.
May your silences as your “pause moments” provide you with rejuvenation.