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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.

 

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