When There Are No Words

A wise professor of mine once described trauma as “the unspeakable.” Often it happens in silence. (And often trauma memories are silent as well.) Not a comforting silence, mind you, but a stifling, heavy, horrible silence. In these moments, there are — in the truest sense — no words!

My own spiritual and emotional pain today reminded me of this truth. In the middle of that pain, words seemed to be an additional assault. This was partly because the person speaking didn’t yet know my triggers or the depth of my pain. And it was partly because they were words. There are usually few words that fit moments like those.

I know I’m not the only one. I walked out of church on Sunday with my dear friend. We left because she couldn’t handle the words in the sermon. Not because they were unkind or theologically unsound, but simply because they were words about God, about faith, about the deepest parts of her soul. It’s all too much for her right now, so to keep her from spontaneously combusting, we left. We walked around in the sunshine, we sat on the church steps, we waited until it was time for communion. And of course, we laughed hysterically over inappropriate jokes that only trauma survivors can come up with. (Don’t ask!) We escaped the danger of words.

So to my own soul, my friend’s soul, and each of you who are so, so weary, this post is for you. Please receive this as a tribute to your courage in “showing up” for life, with all of its deep and raw pain. (And just to clarify, showing up is defined here as continuing to breathe. The bar is…low? Or maybe it’s freakin’ high for you right now! Either way, that’s my official definition, folks.)

And now, to avoid complete inconsistency, I am going to stop writing. Well, mostly. Please see below for a few images and pictures…with a few words mixed in because I can’t help myself!

What do you see in this image?
Are the bubbles protective or suffocating?
Shattering. From rage? Sadness?
Hope? The rainbow (silver) lining of the bubble (cloud)?dvfd

What does this picture mean to you?

Do you ever feel like this guy? I often feel like an old, old grandma, but when I look in the mirror, that’s not what I see.

Does the idea of new life coming from cracks disgust you? Inspire you?

Peace, friends. In the journey with you.


I am a Texan-born Bostonian who wants to understand how we get through hard things in life (aka trauma) using spirituality, meaningful work, life-giving hobbies, connection with other trauma survivors, friendships with non-traumatized people, animals, etc. I am a hospice social worker (LCSW) and I have a bunny named Nadia.

2 Replies to “When There Are No Words

  1. I know so many people can relate to this. We often stuff those feelings and tough it out because they may make no sense to even us. Thank you for your explanation.

    1. Sally, thank you for the comment! And yes…good point about how we often stuff the feelings we don’t understand. Almost like the common knowledge that we fear the unknown? Sometimes the unknown is another person who is very different from ourselves…and maybe sometimes the unknown are big chunks of our own souls. Hug to you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *