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What to say when you don’t know what to say

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What to say when you don’t know what to say

I’m assuming that at some time in your life, you were going through a rough patch and someone, hopefully well-meaning, said something completely inappropriate.
 
For example, at my mom’s funeral, a high school chum told me how lucky I was that my mom took so long to die so I had time to prepare for her death. Not like her experience. 
 
Her comment in itself caused my imaginary eyebrows to rise. Plus, it didn’t make sense since her mom was in a care home for years prior to her death. Not sure how what she said was supposed to help me, but other than giving me an example for this article, it didn’t.
 
Her only saving grace, if you can call it that, was that the comment wasn’t all that unusual coming from her.
 
In an effort to not be one of ‘those people’, I read a fun book* called, ‘There is No Good Card for This: what to say and do when life is scary, awful, and unfair to people you love’.
 
Below are a couple of insights from the book.
 
*this book does have humour but the ‘fun’ is how the book is designed. It isn’t a textbook of any sort. The pages look lighthearted and that makes it less daunting to read about such topics as death, cancer, and divorce. It offers broad suggestions to cover many situations.  As well, it has as a 'Cheat Sheets' section at the back that has specific examples of what to say during specific difficult times.


Quotes

If you take one thing away from this book, it should be this: If you’re choosing between saying something and saying nothing, you’re almost always better of saying something.
~Kelsey Crowe & Emily McDowell



Action Ideas 
Because I think this is a wonderful book that most of us need to read, know this: my two suggestions here in no way replaces the book. These are two of my many takeaways (be forewarned. These are my takeaways and may not represent what the authors were trying to say. I’ve misunderstood conversations many times before.)

1. Do not ask people who are struggling, “How are you?”
It is too broad of a question. Instead ask, “How are things today?” or “Is the world treating you okay today?” or talk about a hobby or interest, “Have you caught the last episode of The Bachelor?”.
The answer might the be quick and perfunctory. Or it might lead into something more.
 
2. Don’t assume you know how it feels.
In the example in the intro, even though my friend thought she knew how I felt, I didn’t share in her assumption. 'Lucky' was not even remotely on my feelings list that day.

You can offer your empathized feelings but don’t assume, such as, “Even hearing you talk about it feels exhausting to me. How does it feel to you?”
 
I’ve used this one before and have had people disagree with me but then clarify, such as, “I didn’t feel exhausted as much as angry. We were doing what we were told to do and then blamed for the lack of results.”
 
3. Sometimes you are the one in need of a kind word. It would be nice if there was someone there for you but there may not be anyone available at that exact time. So, why not love and support yourself? Enjoy our heatable, relaxing Ultra Warming/Cooling Blanket or our Ultra Shoulder Wrap. More colours coming soon. Each item will be available in chocolate, aqua, kiwi, purple and leopard. 
 
Have a compassionate, empathetic week – both to yourself and others.

Providing calmness & comfort, learning & laughter,

InnovAID Inc.
www.InnovAID.ca

P.S. A special thank you to those who send a quick email from time to time, sharing something they learned from the newsletter, a related story, or a follow-up question. It is lovely to 'chat'.

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