Recently I was listening to a segment of Story Corps on NPR, and they mentioned the title of a book, Listening is An Act of Love, by Dave Isay, which is a compilation of personal stories of people from all walks of life.
The title spoke to me. "Listening is an act of love" is a profound statement of truth. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give people is to listen to them -- to listen with compassion, not offering judgement or advice -- but to fully listen to their hopes, worries, or problems.
Thirty-four years ago my first baby was stillborn. I was heartbroken, but moved on quickly with the normal routine of life. However, every day for weeks I talked to my best friend on the phone. I revisited every detail of my daughter's death over and over and over, and my friend listened. She was busy with a baby of her own, but each day she took the time to listen to me. There was nothing she could say to hasten the grief process and nothing she could do to take away the terrible emptiness, so instead she listened as I poured out my sorrow, and slowly I began to heal.
We have drifted apart through the years, seeing each other only occasionally, but I will never forget those long weeks when she lovingly listened me through my grief --