What not to say when someone is suffering

Our latest Afternoon Discussion looked at how we support and care for those suffering chronic conditions including emotional health issues. What should I not say? I want to be helpful but I don’t want to put my foot in it either.

You can watch the discussion below and here are some quick notes.

  • Often the best thing to do is not to say anything but just be there to listen, to sit with the person, to give them a hug.
  • Comparing someone’s experience to your own may not be helpful. Remember every experience of sickness and suffering is unique.
  • This must be balanced because sometimes we can become introverted believing our unique situation means no-one truly understands.  There are common threads.
  • Be careful about promising that things will get better. We cannot make that promise.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about your own life and others, being outward looking helps
  • Don’t rush to tell them about God’s purpose. At bleakest points this may not be something they can see yet and we need to trust God to teach in his timing not ours.
  • Beware of turning the attention on you about he guilt and pain they are causing you by being ill. It’s not always about me.
  • We need to think carefully about the motives for what we say. We can easily fall into expressing our own discomfort or even guilt at another’s suffering.

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