“I don’t know what to say.”
How many times throughout our lives do we have people we know and care about has something tragic, terrible, or otherwise miserable happen somewhere within their parameters of living? I mean, it’s a part of life…good and bad things happen. Sometimes those bad things are really pretty bad. Those of us on the outside of the situation see that this person is in pain and we are at a complete loss of what to do or say.
That’s ok. Sometimes it’s really the best thing to keep it simple…”I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.”
I qualify this by saying this is only from my perspective, and I know darn well that not everyone is the same. You may take what I say with as many grains of salt as you like (baring enough to cause blood pressure issues, of course), apply or not apply it how you see fit. But these are my thoughts.
Someone who has suffered a loss or some sort of tragedy is invariably going to hear any number of platitud-y sayings from well-meaning individuals who really just want the ‘sufferer’ to feel better fast. There is no intention of harm meant in any way shape or form, and the primary thought is that these sayings will make some one feel better. I say that it isn’t necessarily true.
One I’ve heard a number of times…”Everything happens for a reason.” This may or may not be true. I’m generally one who would actually subscribe to this idea. However, hearing it after a brush with death just makes me want to throw something. I get that the idea is that we don’t know what the reason is, blah, blah, blah. But really…unless you can tell me why I almost died, save that platitude for a few months down the road.
So, the lesson in all this, as far as I’m concerned:
The simplest, most effective thing to say is, “I’m sorry. I’m here if you need me,” and then follow through on it. Everyone processes grief and tragedy differently. Some may want to be alone, some may want to be distracted, others may want to talk about it. Letting someone process the way they need to is probably the kindest thing you can do, and the healthiest for the individual. It might be difficult because you don’t understand, but that’s ok. You really don’t need to understand. You just need to let it be.