What can I say?

Have you ever come across someone going through a time of grief or sadness, and not known  what to say?  Have you felt uncomfortable and found it easier to say nothing at all?  Pretend it hadn’t happened, or even avoided the person?  Me too.

But now I have been on the other side of the fence, I realize that these actions are really more hurtful than helpful.

 “But what can I say?” I hear you ask. Good question.  And I am happy to share my thoughts on the matter.

First and foremost – don’t ignore the situation. It is most likely consuming the person, and is the most important thing in their life at that moment. To ignore it is to pretend it is of no concern.

I know it is often hard to confront the pain of another being, but it is so important to acknowledge the way it is. The words don’t have to be eloquent or profound – just genuine and caring.

“I’m so sad for you”

“I’m sorry to hear your news”

Such simple words, but they can be enough.  It’s even OK to say “I don’t know what to say”

 A hug can help a lot too.

If the one you are speaking to, has lost a loved one, it is good to speak of their lost one.  Relate a time when they had impacted on your own life, or an affectionate memory of their beloved.

Please,please,please can I ask that, if they have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness, do NOT share with them the latest “miracle cure”. If you knew how many diets, potions, creams and recommendations I have been given…….  It can be really overwhelming and even guilt inducing, and most often not helpful.

If you want to help someone in a practical way, it will be well received, but be specific.

“I want to come and do your ironing – when is the best time to come?” or  “I will bring around tea for the family – is it OK to drop it off tomorrow afternoon?”, will be greatly appreciated.

So many want to help, but I find I can’t respond to  “If you need some help, let me know”. Like most people, I don’t want to put others out, so I won’t ring and ask for help.


So, there you go – my ideas on what to say when there is nothing to say!




6 thoughts on “What can I say?

  1. Yep, good advice. Love you lots, thanks for sharing your life with us, the ups and downs, good bad and the ugly, hair and no hair. xxxxxx

  2. Your comments on how to handle your painful journey are very wise and inspirational. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Please know that you are in our daily thoughts and prayers.

  3. Oh gosh, do I have lots to say on this subject. In fact, you and I could have a long conversation, friend 🙂 I’ve written many posts on it. By the way, so kind of you to stop by my blog. If you come back, search “grief” and “bereavement”, and you’ll have dozens of posts to choose from. One was Freshly Pressed: Distance, Dispassion, Disregarding. Maybe we can begin our discussion there? thank you for linking me blog. So kind of you!—M

  4. There are many things said by people who really don’t understand what we are going through. Such as “you look fantastic, your hair has grown back, curly too and your skin looks lovely”. I guess it’s nice for people to notice but having said that, you still have cancer, you are still having chemo and you often feel pretty awful. What should people say that isn’t dismissive and wouldn’t make you feel like a fraud ? Perhaps adding that even though you may look good, I know you are still having a rough time”. It doesn’t take much to say those words but how do people know unless we tell them that below the surface things are not as good as our demeanour may show. People mean well and often don’t realise the effect certain comments can have on us. I say; remind them gently. We are grieving for a life that has been changed forever through no fault of our own and some sensitivity from some people wouldn’t go astray.

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