When someone has died, someone is who is ill, someone who’s family member is sick — what do you say?
“I’m so sorry.”
No. Wrong. Do not say that. Their gut reaction would be to say – “No no, it’s okay I am fine.” Because that is what they think you want to hear.
They are not fine. If you are offering support, don’t say something that will make yourself feel better — say something to acknowledge their pain, their sadness, their heartache.
Things you can say: “This must be so hard.” “I can’t imagine what you are going through right now.” “I know you loved ____ so much and how much ___ meant to you.”
Things not to say: “They are in a better place,” “It will get better with time,”
We are talking about the now, not the future. Your friend is feeling pain now and will not want to hear that it will get better. She/he wants validation, acceptance, to process heartache.
You can send an email or text or note. You can come visit and show you care, but let them talk and you can be a silent listener. Don’t post on facebook, it is not your place. Don’t try to make them feel better. Offer to help, or just help, but don’t wait for them to ask you. No one wants to be a burden even when they need you.
Learning the proper way to help someone takes time and practice. You never know how much you can help someone by saying the right things…or NOT saying the right things.
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.