What to say when you don’t know what to say…

In the face of pain, heartbreak, and crisis, most of us don’t know how to react or respond. We want to be an encouragement, we want to comfort, we want to relate in some way…

Words often seem so empty and useless in the wake of tragedy.
Most of us have comfortable responses we share when we don’t know just what to say: 
“It’s going to be ok”
“You’re strong”
“You’re going to get through this”
“I’m praying for you”
“God is in control”
All of these are true, yes! But is it what you’re truly thinking? Sometimes the truth isn’t always comforting, and sometimes honesty is exactly what someone needs to be met with when they are feeling vulnerable. 
Maybe you’re speechless, and aren’t sure you have the right words for such an enormous moment. What if you said that?
Maybe you’re angry that this is happening to someone you care about so deeply. What if you expressed that emotion?
Sometimes it’s a comfort to hear that others are experiencing a range of emotions when you’re trying to process your own. When a friend steps into a crisis situation, they may feel numb at first. When you express your emotions for what they are going through, it can help them begin the healing journey.
Most of us feel helpless when people we care about are in trouble, because in truth, we would rather solve the problems than stand by and watch them struggle.
I wish after all these years I were confident that I have the right words to comfort and encourage. I don’t always know what to say or how to feel, but drawing from honest feelings and thoughts is better than a canned response, even if I’m certain the words I have to offer are imperfect and insufficient.
More important than searching for the perfect words to say when you’re caught off guard is to be around afterward. Check in, mail a note, be available, show up. More than what you say, it’s what you do that makes all the difference.


About abodyofhope

I do not know why it is that we must wade through tragic circumstances to find truth. We nearly drown! But under the water, there are pearls. I hope in writing this blog, more will come to the surface. Over the past 15 years living with chronic pain, patient advocacy has had a powerful effect on my life through meeting so many remarkable teens, women and men: SURVIVORS. These individuals are HOPE personified. I wish to honor them in the same spirit they have encouraged me to press on. Eight years ago, I became bed-bound from a variety of secondary chronic illnesses. A procedure meant to help the pain condition I had been managing for several years- went bust #BIGTIME. Over the years, my entire life has changed. I have changed, but I am still striving to live my best life possible. Along with sharing inspiring pieces about spiritual wellness and finding quality of life inside of ongoing illness, I also share health research, awareness information, poetry, memes, art, and this blog is also an attempt to put my own pieces back together. Welcome to A Body of Hope, and thank you for visiting. [Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/ RSD, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Dysautonomia, Chronic Intractable Migraine, Cluster headache, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Occipital Neuralgia, Hypersensitivity to Sound & Light, Fibro, CFS/ME, Cerebrospinal Fluid Imbalance......blah, blah, blah] >>> P.S. My headgear is protective for pain. I just rock it hard ;)

Posted on September 14, 2016, in Friendship, Kindness, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Thanks a lot, I sure needed that!! And I’m sure you have been thinking a lot about what you can do at home maybe to come up with this post, too. Right now, through this awful hurricane of the move and being let down by so many people, the ones who really help are indeed the ones you describe who are just there, genuine in their answers and feelings. Even if they can’t help, their words are there to support me and not to bring me down. Or they are just there to say: “So what can I help with?” and don’t mind if I start crying. They don’t try to stop it or say platitudes. I don’t like canned answers and I’ve always been awful at them. Had to really ‘learn’ to use platitudes because I realized that’s what almost everyone expects and it made them feel weird if it was otherwise. But my genuine feelings and comments, I can use with people that get it though 🙂 Those people I want to be surrounded with, online or in real life. Just like here, I can always leave a real comment. Thanks for that 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it can leave some of us in a panic not to know just what to say. Especially in the land of social media…it can feel like a load of pressure to respond to a tragedy in just the right way. Even after 12 years of administrating a support group, I can feel dumbstruck to know how to respond. I always know you to be frank and open, and that’s the most refreshing thing in the world when everyone else has only cliche’ responses! Keep being yourself- you are so good at it 🙂 xoxo


  2. Beautifully said and so true! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I couldn’t agree more, one of my best friends whose kids grow up with my kids husband died suddenly at 59 on Labor Day. He was surfing and had a heart attack. I was devastated and really didn’t know what to say. I prayed about it and thought long and hard. When I did call her I cried and told her I was speechless. I said I was brokenhearted and really didn’t know what to say to make it better. It was received so well. She explained what happened and that she was so happy he died while surfing doing something he loved so much.. I totally agree Mary sometimes it is ok to not know what to say and admit it. As always love your perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

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A Complex Life

Living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

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My Life: Beauty Love and Chaos

Blog, Poems and Short Stories by Becky Allen




Living life with a chronic illness is definitely not easy. But I do my best to push through all the barriers this illness puts in front of me! In my heart and mind, I believe maintaining a positive outlook on all situations in life will carry us through to much better times! I hope you find the information that I provide both helpful and inspirational!

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Pain Specialist treating Intractable Pain & Treatment Resistant Depression


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