The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion...that is a friend who cares. -Henry Nouwen
People don't know what to say. It's not their fault. The thing is, sometimes what we think is empathy is actually turning a conversation about someone else back around to us. Remember those people in school who would always one up you? You excitedly tell your friend about how you got to go to a Major League baseball game the previous night only to have your excitement diminished by your friend explaining to you that he has season tickets. Maybe your friend wasn't trying to be a jerk, but it still effectively turned the conversation from being about you to being about him...we've all done it.
The Book of Romans in the Bible says to Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. True love is always outward focused. Let's be honest. Sitting in silence with someone when you hear bad news is awkward, really awkward. We all want to fix each other's problems. It's not just a guy thing. Everyone wants to make whatever it is better. Sometimes you can't. Sometimes you have to sit in the awkward and just be present. I can't say it any better than C.S. Lewis who writes concerning the loss of his wife in A Grief Observed:
Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief...
Maybe those of us walking through grief are too emotional and high maintenance sometimes. Yeah, that's probably true. Please give us grace. We try to give you grace too. Sit with us in silence. I know you mean well, but your 95 year old great aunt who forgets things is not my dad. -Chad Bozarth