Grace Notes

a blog about life’s everyday magic

May 4, 2017

When Words Are Unnecessary

Words: Terry Gassett
Photo credit: Christopher Campbell


As a writer, there are times when I feel that words are either unnecessary or out of place. It might seem strange that a writer might ever think such a thought, much less pen it!


Many are under the impression, that writers always have a plethora of words at their disposal. Those who do not write, may not understand the tension a writer feels when searching for that oh so perfect word to adequately express what their heart longs to say.


Nevertheless, there are times when neither the written word nor the spoken word is either necessary or appropriate.


I mean, what do you say to the couple whose joy has turned into mourning after miscarrying their first child? Or to the dear friend who lost not only her daughter, but her daughter’s daughter/her precious granddaughter all within the span of a couple of years.


What do you say to the casual acquaintance, whose son was killed on impact by a drunk driver?


Someone you barely know, but nevertheless feel a deep kinship with, because after all, she is a mother too and her son is the same age as your oldest son – at least he was, before he departed this world much too prematurely.


What can you possibly say to the friend who is your own age who just lost her husband to cancer and finds herself a widow at much too young an age?


Or to the dear friend who is bravely battling cancer for the second time? Or to the other dear friend, who after a long series of tests has just received the shocking diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy?


I have had my own share of brokenness and have been on the receiving end of ill-timed and unnecessary words.


I have also been on the receiving end of another’s gift of presence; that coming alongside of one in their pain and simply listening.


When my husband and I lost our third child to miscarriage, I experienced both.


Two people stand out vividly in my mind to this day.


First, there was the retired pastor’s wife who showed up, bearing a blueberry bundt cake. She invited herself in and immediately cut me a piece of her “special recipe” cake which she insisted I eat, even though I had no appetite. While I picked at the cake with my fork, she prattled on and on about her own miscarriage twenty years earlier, as well as her current health issues, interspersed with reminders that “You can always have another one, my dear.” I didn’t want her blueberry cake, nor her platitudes. And I didn’t want to have another baby – I wanted the one I had – the one I had carried in my belly for 3 months, the one my husband and I had joyously been looking forward to, the one who had come into our world bringing both joy and pain, whose face we would now never get to see this side of heaven. I wanted that baby, our baby, the one we had loved and lost in much too short a time-frame.


Then there was the welcome presence of a dear Korean friend from our church, who showed up at our door bearing gifts; a large platter of egg rolls, along with several other platters of deliciously smelling offerings, which her husband was cautiously balancing on both arms, as he followed closely behind his wife.


As soon as she entered our home, she immediately hugged me, then my husband. No words were spoken. She then motioned for me to lay back down on the sofa bed my husband had set up for me in the living room and she proceeded to go straight to the laundry room and start a load of laundry. Next, she came back to the kitchen, began to clean the countertops and scour my kitchen sink while her husband sat with mine for a while. She and her husband spent some time playing with our other two children and then prepared to leave.


But before my Korean friend left, she sat down next to me on the sofa bed and pulled out a hairbrush she had brought along, and brushed my hair as the tears fell down both of our cheeks. Neither she nor I spoke during this time, but the depth of her love and the magnitude of her caring was spoken to me with unmistakable clarity through her quiet but powerful presence. You see, she had managed to speak volumes to me not through her words, but through her actions. She hadn’t asked me to call her if I needed anything. She jumped in and did what she could see needed to be done. She hadn’t forced food on me, but had made plenty of it available for when I did decide I might possibly be able to eat a few bites. She hadn’t offered me any platitudes or asked me to look on the bright side of things. No, she met me where I was, there in my pain, and sat with me there, loved me there and left me better than she found me.


All without uttering a single word.


About Terry: Southern. Sassy. I live life somewhere in between a glass of sweet tea and a dash of Tabasco. Jesus Follower, Wife, Mother, Nina, Life Coach, and Writer. Daily breathes in the extraordinary gifts of God on ordinary days, looks for inspiration everywhere, and seeks joy in the journey.  Continue to receive the inspiration on her website: and blog: Find her on Instagram: @heretotherelifecoaching.

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Comments ( 15 )

  1. Danielle Bernock

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    speechless tears

  2. Richelle Tilghman

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    What a beautiful message. Thank you so much for sharing your lovely writing!

  3. Stephanie

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    This is a stunning piece of writing and an excellent example of how to be with someone in grief. You’ve left me in tears. Good tears. Thank you.

  4. Terry Gassett

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you for commenting, Danielle. I hope and pray your tears bring healing to your heart

  5. Terry Gassett

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you for commenting, Danielle. I hope you tears bring healing in your grief.

  6. Terry Gassett

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you for reading, Richelle. I am glad the post spoke to you. 🙂

  7. Theresa Lollis

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    This is extremely well written, but the emotion is so raw. My heart just breaks for all the losses, all the transitions and longing. Thank you so much for sharing♡♡♡

  8. Terry Gassett

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you for reading Stephanie. I am grateful it touched you and that you are able to cry good tears! Blessings!

  9. Terry Gassett

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Theresa. There is indeed so much pain in the world that our hearts literally feel as if they are breaking in two. But that same pain gives us so much opportunity to being comfort to those who are suffering on tangible ways.

  10. Sherri

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Your writing always touches my heart! I especially loved this beautiful piece!

  11. Anne Peterson

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Loved the sensitivity of this piece. I’m sure it was wrought through the pain you probably still experience, and yet, there is a sweetness to it. Perhaps because you yourself have been comforted by God. When we buried Livie, our 4th granddaughter, a year ago. It hurt, still hurts. I’m very sorry for your losses. May God continue to be your comfort.

  12. Terry Gassett

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Sherri, Thank you for reading and for your sweet comments! ????

  13. Terry Gassett

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Anne, Thank you for reading and for your kind comments.
    I am so sorry to learn of your loss of your granddaughter.
    I can’t fathom how painful that must be. I was, and still am grateful for God’s comfort as we walk these painful journeys. I pray you will feel God’s comfort and love holding you close each day. Blessings my sweet friend. ????

  14. Christie Leigh Babirad

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    This was beautiful & a story that is exactly what makes this life so special in those seemingly unbearable times- when that special angel just for you steps in- life is filled with goodness- thank you for bringing this reality out.

  15. Terry Gassett

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you for reading, Christie. You are so right! I am so grateful for those special people who show up bringing goodness when things are at their worst. 🙂

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