When Words Fail

“I’m sorry for your loss”.

Heartfelt.  Truth.

Meant to comfort.

Said with hope to soothe.

Often with love.

But no word has yet been uttered

That gives back or replaces,

What has been lost.


We utter them still.

Letting sounds stumble.

Words tumbling.

Failing us.

When we need them to serve another.

“I’m sorry”

Will never be enough.

Even in the truth of the words-



An uttered cry

May carry better

Than the failed word.





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35 thoughts on “When Words Fail

  1. markbialczak says:

    I cannot find any words that can add to this wise post, Colleen.


  2. April says:

    I have found comfort by just sitting with someone who cares. No words are necessary, at least they haven’t been for me. A hug also speaks a thousand perfect words. To those far away, phone calls to listen. We all get stuck trying to come up with the right words, when all we need to do is share our love and friendship.


  3. And sometimes, just being, in silence.


  4. Conducting Funerals, saying sorry for your loss are the first words to help those in grief. When I first meet the family usually on the day of the Service, I walk up to them and hold their hands more often that not I give them a hug and a warm smile. After the Service there are tears , the hug and the smile once more. Yes nothing can replace, words can be just that..words of support, of heartfelt empathy but having human interaction, I find has more strength. Love the way you have written this Colleen. xx


  5. penpusherpen says:

    I don’t think anything said gets through to those in distress over the loss of a loved one Colleen, the ‘giver’ wants to convey so much, and uttering those few words ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ hold meaning and comfort later. Ready tears are alway there, soothing tears, a release. and I must admit I usually end up in tears myself. through sympathy… I’m a great believer in not bottling up emotion, ’tis not a good thing. Your Words above describe the quandry so well. xPenx


  6. FlaHam says:

    Colleen, Each day you amaze me more, you have the right things to say, and you say it such a way that it reaches out and softly holds and touches all that read them. Your word are rarely harsh, never mean, yet you find the right way at the right time to touch so many hearts. Clearly you have touched mine many a time. Thank you. Bill


  7. Well said. I never know what to say but holding hands have become my mean of giving solace. 😉


  8. Robin says:

    I love the way you get right to the heart of things, CM. I know they say words are powerful — and they can be, that’s for sure — but you’re right about there being times when words feel vague, insubstantial, and not enough.


  9. viveka says:

    Elton has made a song about the hardest word …. sorry! A word that is made to be misused …. better saying it one time too much than not saying it at all. Wonderful post, Colleen.


  10. Saying “I’m sorry for your loss” has always seemed like a lame response to something so enormous. Can’t we do better than that? Wonderful poem, my friend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,


  11. murph says:

    I am sorry. xoxo


  12. giselacarmona says:

    Hearfelt and beautiful poem… and so true! Sometimes silence and loving presence speak louder than words… Big hug to you


  13. Mustang.Koji says:



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