I don’t know what to say

I have had far too much sad news over the past few weeks. When tragedy strikes it is difficult to know what to say. Being both the receiver and deliverer of condolences, I have noticed a shift within my mind. I used to be stumped for words when difficult times were had by the people around me. I found myself either freezing up or blathering on too much.

So what do you say when you don’t know what to say? Here are some ideas.
• Don’t search for words, search for feelings. Let the person know you are thinking about them and that they matter to you.
• If it is a struggle, keep it simple. The person you are comforting just needs to know you care. Words can’t replace what has been lost, so if it doesn’t flow, no need to force it. Love and support is your message; both are felt rather than heard or read.
• Offer help if you can, but understand that it may not be needed. Everyone is different in how they grieve and work through strong emotions. Empowering the person to choose for themselves allows them the space to find their way through it all. The act of offering is what is important.
• Get support for yourself. You can only help someone else if you are in a relatively stable place yourself. If you are a mess, take a bit of time to work through your own feelings. Sad news has a ripple effect, it makes everybody think twice about their lives. That is perfectly normal. It can also be tough to think of someone you care about being so sad, but that empathy is what brings us all together in times of crisis.

When we are all weak, we lean on each other to be strong.


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