How do we know what to say?

“People will forget what you said. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Maya Angelou

Is this perfect wisdom or what? This quote is especially useful to remember when you’re faced with a difficult situation where you’re not sure what to say. Like when a friend is grieving a loss. What can you possibly say at a time when life is full of tragedy? What can you do when someone is in horrible emotional pain?

I have had times when family or friends clearly wanted to help, but they just didn’t know how.

There have been times when the silence felt deafening as someone searched for words to ease the pain. What this quote tells us, is that the good news is you need never worry about what to say. There aren’t always the right words, what matters is how you make that person feel. Trust me, I don’t remember many times when what was said made me feel better. But I remember many times when someone made me feel better with just the fact that they were there for me.

There are things NOT to do or say. Don’t go rushing in, worrying about what you should say! This is tough because it’s natural to want to help, so our brains jump into action searching for how to fix it. But here’s the thing: You can’t fix this one. But you can express your love and support. To do that, get out of your head (forget about being eloquent). Stay in your heart, and stay present. You could just say “I can’t find the words,” or “I’m so sorry,” but what you say is not so important–it’s letting them know that you care that’s important. Look them in the eye, be fully present, and touch them (unless inappropriate)–a meaningful squeeze, a two-handed handshake, a hug–just connect so they know you’re there with them in that moment. They will feel your love and support.

I have been lucky to have many in my life who have “been there” for me. God knew that I would have struggles in my life and He surrounded me with amazing people. I thank God everyday for those people. For each and everyone of you.

Dear God,
I am so grateful for all the love and support I have found in my life. I pray that I can in turn, be that for others. Thank you for my friends and family, who have carried me through the dark days of my life, and celebrated that joyous days too. Thank you for loving me, as only you can. I will continue to reach for a life that you can be proud of.

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