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5 Questions/Phrases TO Say and NOT to Say During Tough Times

A casual friend going through a crisis can be awkward for you. What do you say??

I was having a conversation recently with a close friend going through a tough time. Because we are close, I know the history, and we feel safe with each other it was fairly easy. I said things to her I wouldn't say to someone I barely know!

So what do you say when a more casual friend is going through crisis - cancer, death, loss, anything unusually challenging?

Since language is my thing, and I've been through some things and talked to lots of people who've also been through some things, I've put together a few helpful phrases and a few not so helpful ones. I'm suggesting them for more casual acquaintances because I'm assuming a more intimate conversation with close friends. But honestly, these can be helpful in lots of situations! Here we go:

Not so helpful:

1. Well at least...

You might already know this one can leave someone feeling like they aren't grateful for what they have. Not helpful.

2. Everything will work out fine.

Will it?? Not helpful.

3. Try not to worry/think about it

Yeah, that's like saying, "calm down." Not helpful

4. Stay positive/Hang in there

Yeah, buddy I'll sure do that. Not helpful

5. Let me know if I can help

Sure I will! (I definitely won't). Not helpful.

I know I sound so sarcastic sorry. It's not that these phrases are of the devil. It's not that they're harmful in any way. They're just "normal." They're "what you say." But you might as well just say, "Bummer," and leave it at that. They just don't uplift the person in any way.

We can do better!

1. How can I help?

Unlike “Let me know if I can do anything,” this question assumes they need something and you’re offering to fill that need.

2. What’s the hardest part for you?

This shows care and concern and lets your friend talk if they want to.

3. Would it help to talk about it?

Gives them some control

4. I don’t know what I would do in your shoes.

SO much better than “Well if it were me...” - makes them feel validated.

5. I'm bringing dinner. Burgers or chicken? Allows them to accept help more easily.

Just some ideas to get you thinking. The important point is, try to respond in ways that are empathetic and create an atmosphere of caring and trust.

All for now - thanks for letting me into your day!

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