When someone is struggling, their friends gather round offering their loving support. But sometimes this support comes with a list of well meaning but unhelpful sayings that can leave the sufferer feeling irritated, confused, or in the worst case scenario – guilty for feeling bad in the first place. If the person in pain vocalises these sentiments, then by all means agree if you want to, but never be the one who utters them first.
Typical unhelpful sayings:
- Everything happens for a reason – Does it really? How can a parent who has lost a child possibly see that their child’s death fits into the grander scheme of things?
- There are always people worse off – No doubt. We may feel less alone knowing that others are suffering, but suggesting that pain is always relative just creates more pain in the way of guilt.
- Look for the silver lining – There are often positives that come out of difficult situations, but we need time before we experience them.
- You don’t deserve what’s happened to you – It shouldn’t be a question of who deserves pain and who doesn’t.
- I know exactly how you feel – Do you?
Instead of risking further heartache, show your love and support by being a wonderful listener. Validate how they’re feeling by simply nodding and encouraging them to keep talking. Frequently check in with them and ask them what they need. You will in turn feel a lot better knowing that you have helped and not hindered their recovery.