The Sorrowful Side of Silence


In another essay I listed several of my comforting experience of silence: life-giving, deepening and satisfying. However, there is another side of silence that may also enter or invade our lives. This is the more difficult side of silence, which can be hurtful, sad or even dangerous. Facing it may require courage and compassion, tough love or even a life change.

If we ignore this type of silence we may sink into chaos, since this kind of silence can be a call to go to a deeper place within ourselves, a healing place, a forgiving place. And in order to do that, we may need the help of another person to accompany us. We may actually need to vocalize this silence into words and prayers.

Some of these statements are hard to read because they may trigger fear or shame or anger as we go to that deeper place, so be kind to yourself and if they are hard for you, read just a few at a time. And please add your own…


The silence of giving up on God

The silence of a job loss notification

The silence of a phone call not returned

The silence of a dear John letter

The silence of a friend who is not speaking to you



The silence of forced separation

The silence of going to the mailbox on your birthday and finding it empty

The silence after a slap or a curse

The silence of abandonment

The silence of deeply held resentment



The silence of shame and guilt

The silence of slipping into martyrdom

The silence of anxiety and depression

The silence of death

The silence after a gunshot



The silence of plotting revenge

The silence of time outs

The silence after a grave medical diagnosis

The silence after a car crash

The silence of enabling addicted friends



The silence of abuse or neglect

The silence of planning a suicide

The silence of a disapproving look

The silence of an unanswered question

The silence of a lost friendship




The silence of a lost marriage

The silence of loneliness

The silence of hearing loss

The silence of a secret affair

The silence of cowardly behavior



The silence of passive aggressiveness

The silence of hateful emails and text messages

The silence after your team loses the final game of the championship

The silence of the first sip of a favorite wine gone bad

The silence of a holy no


After reading these, focus for a while on something beautiful like nature, children, art, music. This is not intended to deny or forget the harsh silences but to balance them so we can gently take in the messages we need to hear in order to heal.


Ó Janet O. Hagberg, 2014. All rights reserved.


Reflections on this essay:

What are your most prevalent types of unhealed silences?

What do you do to counteract or embrace the?

How do you bring God’s presence into your silence?

What is your story of healing from some of your silences?