In the best-selling book, “There is No Good Card for This: What to Do and Say When Life is Scary, Awful and Unfair to People you Love,” authors Emily McDowell and Kelsey Crowe say it’s not surprising that well-intentioned people often stumble as they try to express love, hope and compassion to patients and caregivers.
Sometimes, You Can’t Make Pain Go Away
Among the root causes of saying things that unintentionally range from superficial to stupid, according to the authors, is a cultural approach to ‘“healing” as getting over something, rather than learning to live with a loss. We are people who want to fix things … just make the pain go away. And sometimes, you just can’t.
An “empathy tip” from a chapter titled, “Please Never Say This (Thanks),” recommends avoiding, in general, sunny-side-up phrases. Instead, try to sense how family and friends dealing with cancer, stroke or any illness, injury or health crisis might be feeling. Then try to respond simply and sincerely, whether in writing or verbally.
As you think about meaningful things to say, or write, in response to a CaringBridge Journal entry, McDowell and Crowe advise biting your tongue—figuratively, of course!—before allowing any of the following unhelpful statements to escape your lips or fingertips:
7 Things You Should Never Say…
- “Everything happens for a reason.”
- “This is God’s plan.”
- “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
- “At least it’s not cancer.”
- “Just think positive thoughts.”
- “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”
- “At least you have one healthy child.”
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a clunky expression of support, or if you’ve ever written or said something you wish you hadn’t said, please add to the list in the “Comment” section directly below.
Start a CaringBridge Website
Are you or a loved one caring for someone on a health journey? If so, start a CaringBridge website, where you can share updates and receive encouragement and support from your friends and family.