It Hurts . . . What do I say?


Unexpected events happen in life. Banks, stores and people get robbed. Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and other acts of nature happen. People suddenly, unexpected die. Wars have been and are a part of this world’s reality.

“I wasn’t there . . . this type of thing never happened to me . . . I almost feel guilty that I can’t relate . . .” What do I say? I know they hurt.

You might start with saying: I am so sorry this (say the name the event) happened. I am so sorry that (say the name of the person) died. I am so sorry that your were robbed. I am so sorry that your house is gone . . . Then listen. Don’t worry about what you are going to say. Just be fully present in hearing what they have to say. Listening is not waiting for your turn to talk. Listening involves being fully present and focused on the person who is talking. When we are truly listening to another person, we often intuitively just know what to say to them.

If you have the time, the energy and the desire to offer to help, do so. In offering your assistance it is often most helpful to the other person if you are specific about the kind of help you have to offer:

“I am going to the story tomorrow, what would you like me to get for you?”

“I am going to our meeting Thursday, would you like me to pick you up at three o’clock?”

“I just made an extra big batch of soup, would it be OK to bring some over after six o’clock tonight?”

Just offering to help and your telephone number might be too much for a person in crisis to fully process. Making what you are able to do for them and what might be helpful to this individual makes it easier for them to accept or decline your offer.

If appropriate, give a hug. Always a nice way to let another person know that you care, especially when words just don’t say it all.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing stories – Transforming lives.

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