October 14, 2010
by Colleen Swindoll Thompson
Ever wish you could reach out to a friend in crisis, but you’re just not sure what to say? Most of us tend either to avoid the person or situation altogether or to rush in and say too much. The list below demonstrates some ways you can effectively support people in need. Notice how these responses acknowledge and reflect the person’s feelings without judging him or her or offering unwelcome advice.
What Effective Caregivers Say
- I cannot imagine how you are feeling. I’m so sorry.
- Coming to terms with this must be so difficult.
- I’m here for you. Is there anything you need help with?
- How are your kids handling this? Is there anything they need?
- I’ll be connecting with you regularly. Something may come up, and I’ll be here to help.
What Effective Caregivers DON’T Say
- God doesn’t give us more than we can handle; you must be very strong.
- Maybe this wouldn’t have happened if . . .
- Do you think God is trying to tell you something?
- You know, it’s been a few months; shouldn’t you be over this by now?
- I think you need to get back into life. I think the activity would be better than just sitting around.
Soft Words for Heavy Hearts
Here are five books I recommend that have suggestions for speaking with those who are hurting. Of course, Insight for Living cannot endorse everything the writers say in these works, so we encourage you to approach these and all other non-biblical resources with wisdom and discernment.
The Art of Condolence: What to Write, What to Say, What to Do at a Time of Loss by Leonard M. Zunin and Hilary Stanton Zunin
Don’t Ask for the Dead Man’s Golf Clubs: What to Do and Say (and What Not to) When a Friend Loses a Loved One by Lynn Kelly
The Etiquette of Illness: What to Say When You Can’t Find the Words by Susan P. Halpern
Healing Conversations: What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say by Nance Guilmartin
When Words Matter Most: Thoughtful Words and Deeds to Express Just the Right Thing at Just the Right Time by Robyn Freedman Spizman
Colleen Swindoll Thompson holds a bachelor of arts degree in Communication from Trinity International University as well as minors in psychology and education. Colleen serves as the director of Reframing Ministries at Insight for Living Ministries. From the personal challenges of raising a child with disabilities (her son Jonathan), Colleen offers help, hope, and a good dose of humor through speaking, writing, and counseling those affected by disability. Colleen and her husband, Toban, have five children and reside in Frisco, Texas.
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