What Not to Say to Someone Who's Suffering

“Helpful” words can do more harm than good.
What Not to Say to Someone Who's Suffering

“What you’re going through isn’t as awful as you think it is. And if you just had more faith or a more positive attitude, you would feel better. You need to cheer up and remember this is all for the best. I know, because my situation was much worse and I made it through joyfully. So if you need me for anything, advice or otherwise, just call.”

If those words don’t sound horrifying to you, perhaps you have never been the recipient of unhelpful “help.” I have been on the receiving end of insensitive comments and it’s been painful. But if I’m honest, I’ve offered untold thoughtless remarks as well.

We all want to support our friends who are struggling. We all want to offer the perfect insight that transforms their perspective. We all want to help them find joy in the present. But in our attempts to comfort, we often say the wrong thing, adding to their pain instead of alleviating it. I know because I’ve done that. Far too often.

When we dispense that kind of “help,” our friends feel judged, misunderstood, and lonely. Their burden feels heavier, not lighter. They don’t know if they can trust their hearts with anyone.

From being wounded to wounding others, I’ve learned five things not to do when a friend is suffering.

1. Minimize

There are countless ways to minimize another’s suffering, and most of them involve implying what she is going through really isn’t that bad. It’s not as bad as she is making it seem, not as bad as other people’s problems, and not as bad as it could be.

Subscriber access onlyYou have reached the end of this Article Preview
To continue reading, join now for free and get complete access.
orJoin Now for Free
Vaneetha Rendall Risner

Vaneetha Rendall Risner is a TCW regular contributor. A writer, speaker, mother, Vaneetha is passionate about helping people find joy in the midst of suffering. You can join Vaneetha in conversation about choosing joy in the midst of suffering at DanceInTheRain.com.

Free CT Women Newsletter

Sign up today for our weekly newsletter: CT Women Newsletter. CT's weekly newsletter highlighting the voices of women writers. We report on news and give our opinion on topics such as church, family, sexuality, discipleship, pop culture, and more!

Criticism; Encouragement; Friendship; Grief; Help; Suffering
Today's Christian Woman, January Week 4, 2015
Posted January 28, 2015

Read These Next


For Further StudyFor Further StudyDownloadable resources to go deeper

Comments

Join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter

May 25

Follow Us

More Newsletters

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
RSS
Email