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Seven Meaningful Words for Listening

Published: December 26, 2019
by Jim Bob Humphrey

In my 40 years as a funeral director, I have been privileged to listen to over 8,000 life stories. They came into our care from every walk of life, many different cultures and backgrounds, but each one shared the common thread of humanity, they were born, they were loved and they loved, each in their own way, for their own length of days, some only a few hours and others exceeding a century.

In those hours of listening to the stories of their lives and of the circumstances of their passing, sometimes to the most heart breaking tragedies that can be imagined, I have found 7 words to help bridge the space of of listening to those who are hurting deeply and who are in need of support and comfort, and who are not able to respond to our cliches, or our often used and well meaning words.

For those who have never experienced such intense pain as the loss of a loved one caused by a murder, a suicide, a sudden and unexpected accident and even, war, we often struggle with knowing the right words. Words that support and comfort, words that will open communication. So, in those very difficult times, listen carefully, quietly, and prayerfully and then share these these 7 words: “I hear you and I see you”. They are used so rarely used, that you might need to repeat them ever so softly.

More than ever, people today, in a world that provides an infinite variety of communication methods, people do not feel and believe that they are heard and they do not believe they are truly seen. So often, we are too distracted and we fail at truly “being present in the moment”. The most precious and meaningful that you and I can give this Christmas is the gift of ourselves, the gift of our time, the gift of our being present in the moment, the gift of listening, and the gift of transparency.

So, let’s put down our cell phones, iPads, tablets, the TV remotes, and game consoles, and return for a little while to the 1950’s and before and sit on the porch and swing, or be together around a warm fireplace, sit together in a nursing center, or even at a rest stop on the highway, and truly see one another and hear each other.

With All My Heart, I wish for each person a Christmas gift of giving and receiving of a time to just be.


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