Words of Comfort

How many of us have settled in for a bit of social media engagement, only to find out something like a beloved pet of friends has been hit by a car and is struggling to survive? Or another friend is dealing with cancer, or the death of a parent, spouse, child or sibling?

Before you even know the details, chances are you feel compelled instantly to reach out to let your friend know you’re thinking of him or her, that you’re praying for comfort and a quick recovery. But words and emojis don’t seem nearly enough. You want to do more, to say more, to express more of your compassion for everyone involved in this sad event. But what if you say something that actually hurts rather than helps?

Comfort Is a Powerful Gift

Every week we see our friends and acquaintances using social media to share challenges either for themselves or for loved ones. Some are very specific about what they need from us:  “Please pray for me.”  Isn’t it Hallmark that advertises “Say it with a card” and, honestly, I don’t think that’s such a bad idea. It’s not as personal as face-to-face, but it’s tons better than a Facebook post, e-mail, or text (cringe!).

Before I give you a couple of suggestions of things to say, let’s be clear about the following:

~don’t ever cut and paste — your sentiments must be in your own words

~whatever you do, don’t NOT reach out because you feel insecure in your response!

~always take time to formulate your sentiment clearly and simply

~don’t kid yourself that it’s up to them to let you know of their hardship first — reach out if you learn of someone’s difficulty

~don’t ask for details of the divorce, separation, illness, treatment, prognosis, death — listen, listen, listen

~don’t share another’s hardship with anyone else.  It’s personal.

Things to Say

“I’m here for you. You can count on me to do whatever you need or want.”

“I’m sorry you have to go through this.”

“How are you managing? How are your husband, children, etc., doing?”

“We all miss Sue. She touched so many lives.”

“I’m very sorry to hear the news.”

Things NOT to Say

“My uncle had liver cancer too and he ….”

“I know just how you feel.”

“Everything is going to be okay.”

“Don’t worry, you won’t have any trouble finding another spouse.”

Let me know if there are other things people said that hurt or helped you through a tough time.